For members


Reader Question: Do I have to declare my online bank accounts on French tax forms?

If you have non-French bank accounts you will need to declare them on your declaration at tax time - but what about internet bank accounts? Here is what you need to know.

Reader Question: Do I have to declare my online bank accounts on French tax forms?
A card from mobile phone app-based "neo-bank" Revolut in a wallet alongside other bank and store cards. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Question: I know that when I do my French tax declaration I need to declare all bank accounts outside of France – but what about internet accounts? I have a Revolut account in both pounds and euros, so does that count as French or British?

When filling out the annual French tax declaration, which is compulsory for almost everyone living in France, the basic rule of thumb is that you have to declare all income – French and non-French. Full details here.

When it comes to bank accounts, you also need to declare any bank account that has your name on it – including joint accounts – that are held outside France. 

This applies even if the account is dormant or only has a tiny amount of money in it. It’s easy to miss on the form, but important to get right because you can be fined several thousand euro per account that you don’t declare.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do I need to declare my non-French bank accounts?

So what about internet bank accounts – such as N26, Revolut, Wise, Helios and Bunq – which are becoming increasingly popular with foreigners who have financial activity in more than one country?

In general yes, because most of those companies are based outside France – the easiest way to know is to check the account’s IBAN (International Bank Account Number); if it starts with FR (the designation for France) then it’s counted as a French account and you do not need to declare it. If it starts with different initials eg GB for the UK or BE for Belgium, then it’s a non-French account and you must declare it. 

The Local spoke with tax expert and chartered accountant Faten Amamou about declaring foreign accounts. 

Faten said: “You’ll need to declare all your foreign bank accounts and investment schemes, such as foreign life insurance policies. You don’t declare the amount in each account, but you must tell them of the existence of each one, including the account number and when you opened the account – even if the account is dormant or no longer used”.

As for Revolut, the situation is unique. Prior to May 2022, account holders with Revolut were registered with Lithuanian IBANs, but now the bank offers a French IBAN. If you opened your Revolut account after May 2022 and you have a French IBAN, then you do not need to worry about declaring it as a foreign account.

However, if you held your account prior to May 2022, then you will have to declare the account or declare that you switched over from a Lithuanian IBAN to a French IBAN. In order to do the latter, you must indicate the closing date for the Lithuanian account.

In order to declare a foreign bank account, you must fill out form number 3916, titled Déclaration par un résident d’un compte ouvert détenu, utilisé ou clos à l’étranger ou d’un contrat de capitalisation ou placement de même nature souscrit hors de France.

You will need to give your full name, contact information, and bank information (the bank’s address, your account number, and the dates you opened the accounts) for each non-French account you hold. You do not have to declare the amount inside the account.

READ MORE: Ask the expert: How to fill out the 2023 French tax declaration

The situation is a bit different for PayPal, which many use for purchases rather than deposits, and cryptocurrency.

Faten explained that: “PayPal accounts must be declared unless the purpose of the PayPal account is to make online payments for purchases or receipts for sales of goods; the PayPal account is backed by another account opened in France or the sum of the receipts carried out by its holder does not exceed €10,000 per year.

“And if you have a cryptocurrency account, this must be declared, but there’s a special section just for this.

“The fines for failure to declare a single bank account or investment scheme are hefty – from €1,500 to €10,000, with €3,000 being a fairly common penalty. And those amounts are applied to each account you fail to declare.”

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For members


Americans in France: Estate planning, cider and a trick to speed up French admin

From France's apple delicacies to inheritance taxes and estate planning via handy admin shortcuts, here's our latest newsletter for Americans who either live in France, visit frequently or plan to move here some day.

Americans in France: Estate planning, cider and a trick to speed up French admin

Welcome to The Local’s “Americans in France” monthly newsletter for members, featuring all the news and practical information you need as an American resident, visitor or second-home owner in France. You can sign up to receive it directly to your inbox before we publish it online via the link below.

Dear Americans in France,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the beginnings of autumn. Here in Paris, the leaves are already starting to fall and the weather is a bit more brisk. In my home growing up, homemade apple cider and apple pie marked the beginning of fall.

Since moving to France, I’ve fallen in love with fresh-baked tarte tatin and drinking my Breton cidre in a bowl, as tradition dictates. (Apologies to those in Normandy, I have to side with Brittany on this regional rivalry).

As this newsletter is intended to answer the specific questions and concerns of Americans in France, we leave active a survey that you can fill out to tell us which stories you would like to see prioritised. You can fill it out here.

Last month, Jeffrey Weihl in the Gard département asked us a question I hear often from Americans, particularly those who are retired: “How do I best do estate planning to protect my US and French assets from taxation?”

Specifically, Wiehl was wondering how to approach a US-based living trust. I spoke with several experts in tax and family law attorneys based in both France and the United States to figure out what Americans in France need to know about trusts.

The brief answer, according to US-based attorney, G. Warren Whitaker, is that “trusts have a negative reputation in France.” As such, they can lead to burdensome reporting requirements and high rates of taxation once distributed. Whitaker did have some advice for how to go about reporting and what to do if you have a trust set up in the US.

On a general level, estate planning for Americans residing in France can be more complicated than you might expect. Many people conflate inheritance law with inheritance tax, and this can lead to unfortunate surprises down the line.

As for other helpful tips for Americans in France, Mary Sankey, who lives in the Herault département, gave us some helpful advice for those who have just moved or are looking to move: “Begin the “dossier preparation” as early as possible, preferably before you even arrive in France. Get a French bank account as soon as possible. Assume EVERYTHING will take way longer than you expect – be patient.” 

Americans are often surprised by how slowly administrative processes can go in France, but I am happy to let you in on one of France’s best-kept secrets: the ‘attestation’. This document helped me out a lot when I was setting up a bank account and did not have a permanent address yet, and it might be handy for you as well.

As always, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment. You can reach me at [email protected]