British pensioners spending time abroad could lose pension credit

Anyone who is out of Britain for more than a month will lose their pension credit, it was revealed in the Autumn Statement, in bad news for those who spend part of the year abroad.

The cut-off point for losing the means-tested pension credit will be reduced from 13 weeks spent overseas to just four from next April, Chancellor George Osborne announced on Wednesday.

The Telegraph: Autumn Statement: hard-up Brits spending time abroad could lose benefits

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Electricity prices to increase by 2.5% from 1 August

Screenshot 2015-07-16 at 12.12.16
MOST home owners will see their electricity prices increase by 2.5% from 1 August, 2015, but it could have been worse.

Ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, said that the increase would be paid by most people, although small businesses and artisans should not see a price rise.

But the price increases could have been worse, as the body that advises the government on energy costs had recommended an increase of 8% for domestic users.

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France to add thousands of housing units for asylum seekers

France unveiled plans on Wednesday to add 10,500 additional housing spots for migrants as European nations grapple with how to handle a wave of people crossing the Mediterranean.

The government plans 5,000 housing units for people granted asylum in France, 4,000 for asylum seekers and 1,500 emergency slots for illegal immigrants.

In seven years, the number of asylum seekers has nearly doubled in France to reach more than 66,000 cases in 2013.

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Last chance to keep expats’ WFP

A LAST-DITCH bid to stop the ending of British Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) to expats in so-called ‘warm countries’ like France has been launched – and needs readers’ urgent help.

British MP Roger Gale has today tabled a motion in the House of Commons asking for the ‘statutory instrument’ (SI) axing the payments to be anulled. It is now vital this obtains support from other MPs.

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British couple find 16th Century coins in wall during building work

CoinsA BRITISH couple got a bit of a surprise when doing some renovation work on an old coach house in south west France.

As Ron Whetton, who lives in Castillonnès, worked away on a wall he discovered a collection of Spanish gold coins dating from the 16th Century in a small cloth purse.

He cried out to his wife, Jennie, to come and take a look and they couldn't believe their eyes, with the date on one of the coins saying 1590.

The couple run a small hotel business called the Cours de Thomazeau and were undertaking some building work on a coach house that stands opposite the property, they have written more about their treasure trove discovery on their website.

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UK nationals who sold property in France urged to act after changes to ‘social charges’ rule

TaxFRANCE has one of the highest percentages of property owned by people not native to the country, with over three million French properties, or 10% of the national housing stock, owned by non-French nationals, writes Guillaume Barlet.

About 2.7 million of those properties are owned by EU citizens, with the British being the nation with the largest number. This means any change to property laws or taxes in France is likely to affect thousands of Britons.

A French Law passed on 16 August 2012, forces all residents of the European Union and EFTA to pay social contributions of 15.5% on a capital gain arising from the sale of property.

These charges are levied in addition to the existing 19% Capital Gains Tax applied to all sales since 17 August 2012. However, these contributions give no rights to social benefits in France.

Experts in the French property market were concerned the new charges could suppress the French housing market in areas where non-French ownership of property was common.

However, others stated French property law and tax rates change regularly, and many owners buy with the intention of not selling for a quick profit, and as such would not be overly bothered by the new social charges.

The opening of an infringement procedure against France by the European Commission, and the opinion issued by Advocate General Sharpston at the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) means there is a high probability that the social security contributions on capital gains of French property is not compliant with the law of the European Union.

This means that any sale completed on or after 17 August 2012 could have incurred 15.5% on the capital gain which the ECJ is likely to regard as unlawful, and taxpayers in the EU outside France could claim a refund. This includes the 7,000 British nationals estimated to have sold property in France in 2014.

Under these conditions, a claim should be filed as early as possible with the tax authorities to preserve the rights of taxpayers and, should the ECJ decision and/or a change in French legislation be favourable, to obtain restitution of levies wrongly paid.

While it may still be possible in certain specific circumstances to also claim for sales that occurred in 2012, the rules are still unclear and it is strongly advisable to file the claim by 31 December 2014 for sales completed in 2013.

In the examples below, an EU taxpayer not resident in France would be eligible to claim the sum highlighted.

image from www.cubismlaw.com

image from www.cubismlaw.com

Guillaume Barlet is a London-based French lawyer (independent juriste), consultant and head of the French desk at Cubism Law.

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Legislation to end winter fuel allowance for UK expats begins progress in Parliament

George-osborneA CHANGE in regulations that will see an end to the winter fuel allowance for British expats in France has started its way through Parliament.

The Social Fund Winter Fuel Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2014 have been laid before Parliament today, and is set to come into force on September 21, 2015.

What it means is that pensioners living in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus, will no longer get the winter fuel allowance from autumn of next year.

The first announcement was made in 2013 by the chancellor George Osborne, right, when he said that entitlement would be based upon a 'temperature test' and so UK pensioners living in countries in Europe that were warmer than the UK would no longer receive the £200-£300 payment.

But when it turned out that the temperature measurements for France included its territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean, there was a great deal of questioning about the validity of the proposal.

More: UK government says it will save £30m a year from changing expat entitlement to Winter Fuel Payments

How 30 British pensioners in the DOM-TOMs have been used to cut winter fuel payments to 60,000

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Duke of Westminster sells stake in Paris flea market at a loss

Duke of Westminster takes 20m hit on Paris markets (via AFP)

Britain's Duke of Westminster has bailed out of an investment in two famous Paris antiques markets nursing a reported loss of over 20 million euros, it emerged on Tuesday. Jean-Cyrille Boutmy, owner of the Studyrama education and training group, confirmed…

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French ambassador's NY home on sale for $48 mn

French ambassador's NY home on sale for $48 mn (via AFP)

The French ambassador to the United Nations lives in a sumptuous, 18-room apartment at one of New York's most exclusive addresses -- but not for much longer. Belts are tightening, and the French government has put the stunning Park Avenue duplex on…

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CGT set to be charged on British property sold by overseas nationals and expats

IT looks increasingly likely that the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, will decide that capital gains tax (CGT) should be charged on British property sold by overseas nationals and expats.

In his autumn statement, on 5 December, the chancellor is expected to impose CGT on sales by wealthy foreign nationals, but also British people who are resident overseas and still have a property in the UK.

The Telegraph reports that the plan has been disclosed by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and would go some way to appease the Liberals who have seen their desires for increased taxes on multi-million pound properties squashed.

The new policy could see a capital-gains tax of 28 per cent on the sale of second homes in the UK that are owned by overseas investors, including expats, with an estimated £100 million raised by the tax.

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