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Tax efficient saving in France with Livret A & Assurance Vie

By Amanda Johnson
This article is published on: 17th October 2014

When I was a UK resident I was able to take advantage of tax free savings schemes. Are there French products that will allow me to save, tax free, now I live in France?

There are two main tax efficient saving products you can take advantage of as a French resident, Livret A & Assurance Vie.

Livret A is a deposit based account which all banks and the post office offer.  It gives you instant access however this is balanced by a modest rate of interest of around 1% p.a. There is also a maximum amount of 22,950 Euros per person you can hold within a Livret A.

An Assurance Vie is an investment which again all banks and financial institutions here in France offer.

I have written about this before yet I think a reminder of the important aspects of the mechanism of “assurance vie” is probably in order here:

  • An Assurance Vie (“AV”) is a type of insurance however unlike a life insurance policy you may have experienced in the UK, these policies shield any investments from virtually all forms of tax while the funds remain inside the AV. (some funds receive dividend income that has had withholding tax deducted).
  • AV’s become more tax efficient over time. After 8 years funds can be withdrawn from the AV and taxed at just 7.5% on the gain element only. Funds can be accessed at any time before that, with the gain declared on your annual tax return. Standard social tax remains payable on all gain, but only when drawn.
  • After eight years your gain is not only tax efficient, but it can be offset against a tax free allowance of (currently) €4,600 per person (€9,200 per couple) per annum. I would be happy to run through this with you as part of a free financial health check.
  • AV policies are not subject to succession law. Proceeds from an AV policy can be shared amongst any number of beneficiaries. Although the succession tax benefit is reduced when the subscribers are aged over 70, there are still worthwhile benefits to be gained in this area.

What should I ask for in an Assurance Vie?

  • Portability – Can I take it with me if I move back to England or to another country?
  • Regulation – Is the company advising me on an Assurance Vie regulated in France?
  • Fees – No up front entrance fees apart from the money I use to establish the policy?
  • Social Charges – If & how are Social Charges applied to my AV ?
  • Currency – Can I invest in Sterling? Euros?

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Article by Amanda Johnson

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