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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 July 2014

Taxation: France referred to the Court regarding donations to foreign general-interest bodies

The Commission has decided to refer France to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding its tax system for donations made to bodies pursuing general-interest objectives and having their registered office in another EU or EEA Member State.

France exempts donations and bequests to public or public-interest bodies, including charities, from registration duties (taxes on transfers without consideration (droits de mutation à titre gratuit)) where such bodies are established in France. The organisations in question are public or public-interest bodies that exclusively allocate their resources to science, culture or art, or for cultural associations, etc., and which carry out their activities on French soil.

However, bodies with similar characteristics established or carrying out similar activities in other Member States of the European Union are subject to a 60% tax (calculated above a threshold of €1 594) on the value of the donation or bequest received. Nevertheless, by way of exception, France has entered into a number of bilateral agreements which allow for exemption from duties on a reciprocal basis.

According to the case-law of the Court (in particular Case C318/07, Persche v Finanzamt), taxation of donations to foreign bodies constitutes an unjustified obstacle to the free movement of capital as laid down in Article 63 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 40 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area.

This difference in treatment may deter French taxpayers from making donations or bequests to charities established outside France.

Useful links

For press releases on infringement cases in the taxation or customs field see:

For the latest general information on infringement measures against Member States see:

On the July infringement package decisions: MEMO/14/470

On the general infringement procedure: see MEMO/12/12

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Franck Arrii (+32 2 297 22 21)

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