SAME-SEX couples who are registered in a civil partnership from outside France,
and who are then considered resident in the country, face paying thousands of pounds in inheritance tax, even if they are not considered French residents.
Although the UK recognises the French equivalent of its own civil partnership, the pacte civil de solidarité (PACS), the reverse is not the case.
Meaning should one or other partner die in France an inheritance tax bill of 60 per cent will be sent to the surviving partner, with those affected having little option but to pay up.
A story featured on the Pink News website highlights the case of a man who lost his life partner of 31 years to cancer, they lived in a house near Perpignan but now he faces a massive tax bill as the French system doesn't recognise his civil partnership.
At present it appears the only option for a couple would be to 'divorce' out of their current arrangement and then go through the PACS system, clearly a choice not available to someone whose partner has died.
Strangely same-sex couples from Holland who are registered under their own equivalent system are recognised by France, but couples from other EU member states and elsewhere are not.
I have recently received a number of emails from readers highlighting the issue, pointing out the work of MEPs Michael Cashman and Elspeth Attwooll, who have taken up the issue, as well efforts from the Green Party representative for Paris, Martine Billard, who has written to the French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati.
The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) has been lobbying the EU, and in France the head of L’Inter-LGBT, Alain Piriou, has written about the situation and cases his group has crossed.
And the frustration and worry of couples caught in this situation is voiced in an email message, which reads:
We seem to be stuck, we can't do a PACS becuase we are already in a civil partnership in the UK yet the French do not recognise this and say we have no legal or tax rights as a couple and in their eyes we are still two single men with no family/married/PACSed link with each other.
Once the summer recess is over in both the European and French parliaments, a question is set to be asked by Elspeth Attwooll and it is hoped legislative change will be brought.
If you are in a similar situation, or have advice to pass on to others, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly.