Expats living in France should already be familiar with the form 3916 – Comptes bancaires à l’étranger – which is filed with the annual tax déclaration and discloses details of foreign accounts held.
New legislation designed to catch tax fraudsters hiding money offshore (see news reports regarding the alleged activities of ex-Minister Jerome Cahuzac) could also apply to the monsieur-in-the-street who still has the odd UK bank account which he fails to remember or include on the annual form 3916 . So now is the time to review all those small accounts that you may have opened years ago and which have lain virtually dormant for many years – tidy up your banking affairs and make sure you do not fall foul of the rules.
If, during this financial spring-clean, you find some accounts which never made it on to your form 3916, then make a voluntary disclosure. Governments are now particularly keen on sharing financial information about you and you would be astounded how, in just a few clicks of the mouse, this information is available cross-border to the respective tax authorities.
For those with larger, undeclared, foreign account balances, the net is closing! The Budget Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has told the French députés that if tax evasion is discovered, harsh penalties at the rate of 30% will be imposed on top of the tax due but for individuals making voluntarily disclosures the penalties will be scaled back at just 15% plus the tax due for what he called “passive” frauds where, for example, there are inherited accounts containing undeclared funds.