“VCL BUSINESS CLUB” : SOME NEWS FROM FRANCE - WEEK 37

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Business questions: Will France be la vie en rose for tax and benefits?

I am employed in London by a UK-based marketing consultancy, but I want to relocate to France. My employer agrees that I can work effectively from there since I do a lot of international travel, and will therefore support the relocation, provided it costs no more in overall remuneration. I assume that will mean I have to contract-in my services. Should I incorporate a French or UK company to do so, or just operate from France as a sole trader?

I want to avoid double taxation or even reduce my overall tax payments. Becoming part of the French social security system – better than the UK’s – would also appeal. Could you advise me?

There is a specific French tax regime available for  ex-pat executives that may apply to your circumstances. If your employer were to establish a French subsidiary, there could be exemptions from French taxes on parts of the remuneration paid to you by the subsidiary. However, it is likely that there would be a significant increase in the social security costs payable.

Although you consider the French social security system better than the UK’s welfare state, you should remember that contributions are significantly higher. In France, the employer pays approximately a 40 per cent surcharge on the gross pay to the employee and the employee pays around 20 per cent. The employee then has to pay income tax on the net amount received after deduction of the employee social contributions.

If you were self-employed and rendered your services to your current employer from France, you would be resident in France for tax purposes and pay French income tax. Although the social security costs are less for self-employed individuals, the social benefits are lower than for employees. If your profit is, say, €100,000 per annum, social security costs would be roughly 30 per cent – in addition to which you have to pay your income tax.

Incorporating a UK company to employ you and render services to your current employer may be your best option.

Under the EU directive on social security contributions, an individual moving from country A to country B by reason of employment is exempt from social security contributions in country B for 12 months, renewable for a further 12 months, provided full contributions continue to be paid in country A.

Clearly, there is an additional cost in incorporating and operating a UK company, as well as the costs of compliance with UK company law and tax rules. These need to be weighed against any savings.

However, the question of double taxation is unlikely to occur since the UK and France have a comprehensive double taxation treaty.

Geoff Goodyear is managing partner of Lubbock Fine and Claire Zuliani is head of legal and tax services of Transparence, which are both members of Russell Bedford International, a global network of tax and advisory services

Company has disclaimed leaseTwo years ago, I rented out some commercial premises to a company. But it has gone into liquidation and I have had a letter saying that the lease has been disclaimed. What does this mean and can I make any claim against the directors?

When a company goes into liquidation, a lease is generally viewed as a liability because of the ongoing obligation to pay the rent. This means the liquidator has the power to disclaim the lease which brings the obligations of the company to an end. However, you should be served with a notice which has been filed with the court – a letter alone will not suffice.

Once the lease has been disclaimed, you can claim against the company for any arrears of rent or other liabilities that have accrued. However, you cannot claim for any liabilities beyond the date of the disclaimer. You may also be able to make a claim against the directors if you required them to act as guarantors or sureties at the time the company entered into the lease. If you did, then those obligations usually continue in spite of the disclaimer and may enable you to claim rent up to the end of the term – as well as for any other breaches of obligation such as repairs and maintenance to the property. But remember that the extent of the directors’ obligations depends upon the precise wording of the guarantee given.

Fiona Gaskell is a partner and dispute resolution solicitor at Clough & Willis, a law firm

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e4f524e6-c280-11df-956e-00144feab49a.html

 

France and Germany Spar Over Policies on Roma

European tempers over the treatment of Roma immigrants flared again on Friday, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said the Germans were preparing to follow France’s lead and expel migrant Roma, while German officials denied they had said any such thing.

The altercation marked a significant widening of the diplomatic repercussions spreading across Europe after France in July began deporting Roma to their homes in Romania and Bulgaria.

The issue of deportations carries especially heavy historical freight for Germans: earlier this week, Viviane Reding, the European Union’s justice commissioner, drew a parallel between Mr. Sarkozy’s decision to expel thousands of Roma and ethnic cleansing by the Nazis during World War II.

Mr. Sarkozy told reporters on Thursday night, after a heated meeting in Brussels that had initially been called to promote Europe’s role on the global stage, that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, had told him she intended to dismantle Roma camps in her country in the coming weeks.

“We’ll see how calm German politics will become,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

But as soon as Mrs. Merkel’s plane landed back in Berlin, the chief government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, flatly denied that Mrs. Merkel had made such comments to Mr. Sarkozy. The spokesman said the issue of Roma camps in Germany was never discussed.

The French government had no immediate comment.

The spat began on Tuesday, when Ms. Reding accused France of violating European law in its expulsions of thousands of Roma. Ms. Reding said that assurances from French ministers about their policies on the Roma had been contradicted by the leak of an official circular showing that the ethnic group had been specifically singled out for deportation.

Angry that she had been misled, Ms. Reding was blunt in her public response. She used strong language to condemn French policies, referring to “a situation that I had thought that Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.”

That prompted a display of pyrotechnics from Mr. Sarkozy, who accused the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, of distorting French policies and exceeding its authority. The issue dominated a summit meeting of European Union leaders on Thursday, where leaders argued about the rights of members of the European Union to expel unwanted immigrants from other member states.

No one seemed to come out ahead. Other European leaders also criticized Ms. Reding’s comments, including David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, who argued that “members of the commission have to choose their language carefully as well.”

But few gave direct support to Mr. Sarkozy’s policy on the Roma. Mr. Sarkozy claimed that Mrs. Merkel had done so, only to be met with a strong German denial.

Aides to the French president have been instructed not to comment on any aspect of the conversation he said he had with Mrs. Merkel about the Roma, according to one of them, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said he was not present for any such exchange between Mr. Sarkozy and Mrs. Merkel. Asked on Europe 1 radio if the French had invented Mrs. Merkel’s words, Mr. Kouchner said, “History will decide,” adding that he was not present for that conversation, though he was “there the whole time.”

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister who also attended the Brussels meeting, waded into the Roma dispute on Friday, telling German radio that Mrs. Merkel had made no pronouncements of any kind related to the Roma community in Germany.

“The chancellor both told publicly, and me personally, how the conversation went” with Mr. Sarkozy, he said.

“There have been no announcements,” Mr. Westerwelle said. “This would be in contradiction to the German constitutional framework. I suspect that this is a misunderstanding.”

He did, however, criticize — without naming her directly — Ms. Reding, the European Union’s justice minister.

“To put France into the same category as the crimes of World War II is totally unacceptable, very hurtful and presumably has led to the angry reaction of the French president,” Mr. Westerwelle said.

Mrs. Merkel has also said it was unacceptable to compare France’s expulsions of the Roma, also known as Gypsies, to the actions of the Nazis.

Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, Europe director of the Bertelsmann Foundation, a German research institute, said the Roma dispute was a reminder of how difficult a partner Mr. Sarkozy could be.

“The fact that he upset Merkel could be damaging,” said Mr. Fritz-Vannahme. He added that the German officials regarded the French president as someone “always liable to have an outbreak of temper.”

While tough policies may lift Mr. Sarkozy’s poor opinion poll ratings in France, they sit uncomfortably with his international ambitions as he prepares to take up the presidency of the G-20, a grouping of wealthy and major developing economies.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/world/europe/18germany.html?_r=1&ref=france

 

Deux Français sur trois mécontents de l’euro

Faut-il y voir les stigmates de la crise grecque ? Plus de 10 ans après sa création, la monnaie unique semble avoir perdu de ses attraits en Europe.

C’est l’un des enseignements du sondage réalisé en juin dans onze pays de l’Union européenne (UE) à l’initiative du German Mashall Fund (GMF) et publié mercredi 15 septembre. Une majorité de personnes interrogées (57%) considère que l’euro a été une mauvaise chose pour l’économie de leur pays.

La France décroche la palme des mécontents avec 60% d’opinions négatives, soit le pourcentage le plus élevé de tous les Etats de la zone euro. Curieusement, elle devance donc l’Allemagne (53%) qu’on disait pourtant en plein divorce avec la monnaie unique.

“Ces chiffres sont un signal d’alarme, l’expression d’un mécontentement, d’une frustration au sein de la zone euro”, analyse Bruce Stokes du GMF, qui a participé à la réalisation de l’enquête. Pourtant, affirme le chercheur, il ne faut pas les sur-interpréter.

“Tous ces pays seraient-ils prêts pour autant à quitter l’euro pour revenir à leur ancienne monnaie ? Nous avons réalisé en mai un sondage sur ce sujet en France, en Allemagne et en Espagne, et la réponse était non, à une très nette majorité.”

C’est la première fois que le German Marshall Fund intègre la question de l’euro à son enquête annuelle. Il n’est donc pas possible d’évaluer dans quelles proportions l’euroscepticisme a fleuri dans le sillage de la crise des derniers mois. Une crise qui a révélé les failles de l’Union monétaire et mis son existence en péril.

Hors de la zone, l’euro ne séduit pas davantage. Sans surprise, le rejet est particulièrement prononcé en Grande-Bretagne : 83% des personnes interrogées estiment que son adoption serait préjudiciable à l’économie britannique. En Pologne non plus (57%), la monnaie unique n’est pas un eldorado, quand bien même le pays devrait y adhérer à l’horizon 2015.

Selon les conclusions du GMF, si l’euro souffre d’un déficit d’image, les Etats européens ne semblent pas pour autant mettre en doute la construction européenne. Pour une majorité de sondés (57%), les difficultés économiques que rencontre le Vieux continent doivent être l’occasion de renforcer l’UE.

http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2010/09/15/deux-francais-sur-trois-mecontents-de-l-euro_1411697_3234.html

 

Cartes compétences et talents : un revenu au moins égal à 1,5 fois le SMIC

La Commission nationale des « compétences et des talents » qui s’est réunie le lundi 28 juin 2010 et dont le délibéré est paru au Journal Officiel, aujourd’hui, ce jeudi 16 septembre, a adopté la disposition suivante: à l’occasion du renouvellement de son titre de séjour, le titulaire de la carte  « compétences et talents » devra démontrer pouvoir vivre de son projet.

A cette fin, le projet pour lequel il aura obtenu sa précédente carte devra lui assurer un revenu mensuel d’un montant au moins égal à 1,5 fois le salaire minimal en vigueur en France (1 343, 80 €), sans préjudice d’autres sources de revenu éventuelles.

Immigration choisie plutôt que subie

La carte de séjour « compétences et talents » est, selon le gouvernement, destinée à faciliter l’accueil des étrangers dont « la personnalité et le talent constituent des atouts pour le développement et le rayonnement de la France ».

D’une durée de trois ans, renouvelable une  seule fois, ce titre est délivré à des personnes « dont la présence est une chance pour la France mais n’est pas vitale pour leur pays d’origine », selon le gouvernement  Prônant une immigration choisie plutôt que subie, il avait été indiqué que ce titre serait accordée de préférence à des informaticiens indiens, mais pas à des médecins originaires du Bénin.

http://www.lemondeinformatique.fr/actualites/lire-cartes-competences-et-talents-un-revenu-au-moins-egal-a-1-5-fois-le-smic-31681.html

 

Rebond surprise du patrimoine des ménages français

Le patrimoine des ménages devrait progresser de 5% selon une étude des Cahiers de l’Epargne. Une croissance inattendue alors que le taux d’épargne est en baisse et que la bourse bat de l’aile mais qui s’explique par la reprise des prix immobiliers.

Après avoir baissé en 2008 et s’être stabilisé en 2009, le patrimoine des ménages français devrait enregistrer une croissance de 5%, “nettement plus forte qu’anticipée il y a encore quelques mois”, estime la dernière livraison des Cahiers de l’Epargne.

 Et d’expliquer: “La raison en est simple : les prix de l’immobilier ancien renouent avec les hausses”. De fait, les prix des logements anciens en France ont progressé de 6% au deuxième trimestre, selon les notaires et l’Insee qui évoquent un retournement de situation.

Et comme la pierre représente les deux tiers du patrimoine des ménages, son fort rebond permet de compenser d’autres facteurs beaucoup moins favorables, voire négatifs. A commencer par la baisse du taux d’épargne qui devrait passer à 15,5% à la fin 2010 après un pic de 16,7% enregistré au troisième trimestre 2009. Et ce pour compenser un pouvoir d’achat qui reste atone, expliquent les Cahiers de l’Epargne.

De leur côté, les rendements des produits financiers vont rester faibles, dans la lignée des performances de la bourse. Les nouveaux placements financiers des ménages devraient quand même repartir à la hausse cette année pour atteindre 115 milliards d’euros contre 104 en 2009, tout en restant encore loin des 142 milliards de 2007.

 “Les particuliers favorisent toujours l’assurance-vie en euro dont la collecte nette ralentira en raison de la baisse probable des rendements et d’une concurrence croissante du PEL et du Livret A” détaillent les Cahiers. Ce dernier devrait quant à lui profiter de la remontée de son taux porté à 1,75% au 1er août, ce “qui lui offre une rémunération nette bien supérieure aux autres produits liquides”. Au final, le patrimoine financier des ménages progresserait de 2,6%.

http://www.lexpansion.com/economie/actualite-economique/rebond-surprise-du-patrimoine-des-menages-francais_238838.html#XTOR=EPR-175

 

 

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