The French tax authorities have developed a reputation as one of the most aggressive in Europe, if not in the world. There has been a trend in France over the past few years for tax matters to become criminal issues and a series of raids during the first six months of 2016 on large multinationals' offices in the country have only compounded this impression. With the advent of the BEPS Project, this is unlikely to change.
A long-running dispute the authorities have with Google is indicative of the approach that the authorities in France take when it comes to multinational taxpayers. Véronique Millischer, partner at Baker & McKenzie believes that sanctions may not be limited to those taken against the companies and that criminal charges against individuals are likely to become more commonplace.
"What we see is a general trend toward criminalisation," said Millischer. "This means that in these cases there may be two battles taking place, the first battle with the tax administration, and the second with the criminal prosecutor. It is only in the beginning, in this respect, but there is an increasing trend in this direction."
France has been a fast mover when it comes to implementation of all aspects of the BEPS proposals. This is especially seen in the action points on transfer pricing (Actions 8-10) due to its domestic transfer pricing rules already referencing the OECD's guidelines. This means that the new recommendations were applicable immediately after the OECD formally adopted them.
"I think France is certainly one of the countries that has tried to implement the BEPS recommendations as fast as possible. So therefore, the environment is difficult in France. Clearly, the tax pressure is not going down, and actually we have seen an increase in our activity with respect to tax audits and litigation, as a result of this fast implementation," said Hervé Israël of DLA Piper.
As multinationals move to restructure so as not to be seen to be engaging in overtly aggressive tax practices, and to match the new BEPS-inspired legislation, the amount of work for tax advisors is sure to increase.
32, rue Monceau
Tel: +33 (1) 70 38 88 00
Fax: +33(1) 70 38 88 10
Arsene Taxand is a specialised independent tax firm which was created in 2004. With 80 tax professionals (21 tax partners), Arsene Taxand provides a full range of tax services from strategic tax management to Transfer Pricing, Indirect Tax/VAT, Customs, Real Estate, Merger & Acquisition, Private Equity, Research and Development, Green Business, Employee Benefits schemes and Tax litigation. We work with our clients to find and implement the optimal solution for their tax issues and to manage the contingent risks. This joint approach makes it possible to find the strategy that is best adapted to the specific challenges facing your business.
Our experience also enables us to liaise with other experts inside or outside your company (lawyers, financial experts, human resources and IT specialists and organisational consultants, etc.).
The complexity of everyday business means that companies increasingly call on high-level experts to assist them. Our services focus exclusively on the corporate tax environment. We provide our clients with on-going assistance in driving your company forward. Knowledge of your business is a determining factor in the value added that we are able to bring to your firm.
Arsene Taxand is not subject to any regulatory constraints other than strict compliance with the Code of Ethics of the legal profession and respect for the interests of our clients.
Arsene Taxand is one of 9 firms that founded Taxand in 2005 and is, exclusively, Taxand France. Taxand provides high quality, integrated tax advice worldwide, giving clients access to more than 2,000 tax advisors across nearly 50 countries. Our tax advisors grasp both the fine points of tax and the broader strategic implications, helping companies and investors mitigate risk, manage tax burden and drive the performance of their business.
EY Société d'Avocats
1 place des Saisons
92037 Paris La Défense Cedex
Tel: +33 1 46 93 60 00
Regional and Country Tax Leader
Tel: +33 1 55 61 11 22
Algerian Tax Desk in Paris
Tel:+33 1 55 61 12 07
African Tax Desk in Paris
Tel: +33 1 46 93 60 00
Business Tax Services
Tel: +33 1 55 61 11 28
Tel: +33 1 55 61 11 90
Global Compliance and Reporting
Arnaud de Roucy
Tel: +33 1 55 61 19 97
People Advisory Services
Tel: +33 1 55 61 12 41
Tel: +33 2 51 17 50 31
International Tax Services
Tel: +33 1 55 61 10 85
Private Client Services
Franck Van Hassel
Tel: +33 1 55 61 11 40
Tel: +33 1 55 61 12 48
Tax Policy and Controversy
Tel: +33 1 55 61 16 10
Tel: +33 1 55 61 15 57
Tel: +33 1 55 61 13 20
Tel: +33 4 78 63 17 10
Tel: +33 1 55 61 17 20
Tel: +33 1 55 61 10 62
Tel: +33 1 55 61 13 77
|Corporate Income Tax||33.33%||A|
|Capital Gains Tax||0%||15%||33.33%||A|
|Net Operating Losses (years)|
|Dividends||30%||75%||B C E|
|Interest||0%||75%||B E F|
|Royalties from, for example, patents, know-how||33.33%||75%||B E F|
A For resident companies, surtaxes are imposed on the corporate income tax and capital gains tax.
B These are the withholding tax rates under French domestic law. Tax treaties may reduce or eliminate the withholding taxes.
C Under the European Union (EU) Parent- Subsidiary Directive, dividends distributed by a French subsidiary to an EU parent company are exempt from withholding tax, if, among other conditions, the recipient holds or commits to hold at least 10% of the subsidiary’s shares for at least two years.
D The withholding tax rate is 75% for distributed profits paid into uncooperative states.
E No withholding tax is imposed on interest and royalties paid between associated companies of different EU member states if certain conditions are met.
F The withholding tax rate is 75% for interest on qualifying borrowings and royalties paid into uncooperative states.
G Branch remittance tax may be reduced or eliminated by double tax treaties. It is not imposed on French branches of companies that are resident in EU member states and are subject to tax in their home countries.
H Losses carried back may not exceed €1 million.
I The amount of losses used in a given year may not exceed €1 million plus 50% of the taxable profit exceeding this limit for such year.
Key contacts at Allen & Overy include Mathieu Vignon, whose primary focus is on the tax aspects of domestic and international tax structuring as well as on the execution of M&A transactions, and Jean-Yves Charriau, who focuses on the structuring and financing of international and French real estate investments and has experience advising on Islamic finance taxation.
Vignon and Charriau lead a team which focuses mostly on transactional work, including M&A, corporate and real estate for banks and financial institutions including equity funds. The firm is well spoken of by peers.
A key contact at Arsene Taxand, Taxand France is Frédéric Donnedieu de Vabres, who aside from being a co-founder and the firm is also the chairman of the Taxand network.
The firm offers its services primarily to international multinational groups and companies. However the firm is capable of advising taxpayers of all kinds on a variety of legal tax issues across a range of industries in areas such as tax structuring and optimisation, to tax litigation and dispute resolution services.
The team at Ashurst is led by Nadine Gelli, who advises on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, namely LBOs and M&A deals. She leads a team which assists clients primarily in the financial services and asset management industries on the full range of international and domestic taxation issues.
The team at August & Debouzy advises clients during tax litigation, assisting at all stages of tax audits and during investigations. The taxation of endowment funds, trusts and foundations are important practice areas for the team. The firm's other staple tax services include corporate taxation, personal taxation, asset engineering, the taxation of financial income, real estate, indirect tax and international taxation.
The team is led by managing partner Philippe Lorentz and is based in Paris.
The head of tax at Baker & McKenzie is Véronique Millischer, who leads a team of 39 professionals, two working in indirect tax, 11 working in corporate tax, six working in tax disputes and two working in tax compliance and accounting.
Brandford Griffith & Associés's tax practice is led by Roland Poirier, a lawyer with almost 30 years of experience in all aspects of domestic French, EU and international tax law.
His team primarily focuses on the tax implications of corporate M&A, group restructuring, complex financial instrument issuance and property taxation. The team is also adept at advising clients during audit, dispute resolution and litigation proceedings.
Renaud Streichenberger and Yves Rutschmann are joint heads of Bredin Prat's tax practice. They lead a team of 20 other professionals, all of whom work both on corporate tax and tax disputes.
The firm advises local companies, international firms and multinational groups in all aspects of corporate tax, as well as providing assistance during tax authority disputes and litigation. The firm has a particularly good reputation in the area of assistance to those accused of white collar crime, and also has a proven ability to negotiate complex tax rulings with the French tax authorities.
Cabinet Turot is a boutique tax law firm specialising in tax litigation. It assists clients during court proceedings as well as during dispute resolution and negotiations with the French revenue services.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is an international law firm with a dedicated tax team of eight people in France. The firm specialises in the tax implications of M&A, leveraged buyout (LBO), as well as the tax implications of company and group restructurings.
Clifford Chance has offices with tax expertise across the world, and its Paris office was opened in 1962. Key contacts at the firm are Eric Davoudet and Alexandre Lagarrigue, who are joint heads of tax. They lead a team which advises a wide range of clients, from individuals to the largest multinational groups on all issues to relating to tax, including corporate taxation, indirect tax including VAT, and representing clients before the courts and during dispute resolutions proceedings.
CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre’s tax department is one of the largest in France. The firm represents clients on a range of issues across multiple industries, including corporate and indirect tax, transfer pricing, M&A and tax litigation and competent authority disputes.
All the professionals at the firm practice across tax areas such as transfer pricing, domestic and international law, corporate, regulatory, M&A and tax controversy. The main clients of the firm are large multinational enterprises from Europe and the US, as well as medium- to large-sized French companies including insurance and financial services companies.
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier focuses its practice on corporate transactions and tax dispute resolution, in which they have a very good reputation. It also engages for its clients in advising on the tax implications of restructurings, joint ventures and finance and real estate transactions.
The team also advise clients during the course of a tax authority audit, as well as during APA negotiations and litigation.
De Pardieu Brocas Maffei has a team of tax professionals skilled in the areas of business and property tax. The firm assists a broad range of clients using a multidisciplinary approach to tax issues. It represents clients of all kinds, but is especially skilled in the real estate and financial services sectors.
A key contact at Dentons Paris office is Benoit Giraux, tax partner and co-head of the tax team. He, along with his team, acts as a tax counsel and litigators in areas relating to business restructurings and asset management.
The team represents clients of all types in all areas relating to taxation, and is specifically qualified to deal with clients in the banking, financial services, energy and natural resources, high net-worth individuals, and technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sectors.
DLA Piper's tax practice in France employs two partners and seven other fee earners.
A key contact at the firm is Guillaume Valois, partner and head of tax, who along with his team of five other tax professionals works to advise clients across a broad spectrum of international tax issues. The team focuses mainly on domestic and cross-border M&A, private equity, real estate transactions and international tax structuring. It also provides assistance during tax authority disputes and litigation, as well as audits.
EY, led by Eric Fourel, has more than 400 lawyers and other professionals dedicated to tax across 11 offices in France.
The firm's main focus areas include international tax, transfer pricing, M&A, indirect tax and customs, real estate, human capital, financial services, litigation and dispute resolution.
FIDAL has almost 90 offices across France, and through its association with KPMG in other countries can offer its clients a truly international tax service when called upon. Day to day, the firm advises domestic and international privately- and publicly-held companies during audits, litigation as well as tax structuring and more run of the mill tax advisory services.
A key contact at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is Vincent Daniel-Mayeur who leads a team of eight tax professionals, all of whom are competent to counsel in corporate tax, indirect tax, tax disputes and litigation.
The firm provides services such as tax structuring advice and advice on the tax implications of M&A deals, as well as services including dispute resolution and assistance during litigation.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher offers a full tax service from its offices in Paris, and is a good choice for clients requiring assistance in insolvency, litigation and real estate issues. Other important areas of the practice include corporate taxes, M&A, restructuring and investment, and the firm is able to offer sound tax advice in all of these. A key contact at the firm is Jérôme Delaurière, who specialises in complex international taxation issues.
Based in Paris, the firm Gide Loyrette Nouel has a strong reputation in France and internationally in international taxation law, covering all areas of tax including the tax aspects of corporate restructuring and regrouping, international taxation of multinational groups. The firm also provides assistance during tax audits, dispute resolution proceedings, and litigation representation.
Hogan Lovells is a well-respected international law firm. Its Paris office is led by Xenia Legendre and Bruno Knadjian, both of whom have significant experience in advising clients of all kinds on a wealth of taxation issues.
They lead a team which advises a variety of clients on a range of taxation issues, but which particularly focuses its practice on transactional tax issues including corporate M&A deals and LBOs, among other areas.
Jones Day's tax practice in Paris is led by Emmanuel de La Rochethulon, who leads a team which covers all tax aspects of M&A, business restructurings and real estate transactions for clients including investment funds and large companies. The team also assists clients on general tax issues, including during audit and litigation proceedings.
Some key industries for the firm are banking and financial services, transport, energy, TMT and manufacturing.
A key contact at the Paris office of Latham & Watkins is Olivia Rauch-Ravisé, who is the head of the tax department. She oversees a well-respected team which covers all areas of domestic and international tax, for an array of company types across many industries.
The firm is particularly praised in the areas of corporate taxation, advice on the tax implications of corporate M&A deals, as well as more general tax structuring and litigation and disputes advice.
LexCase, led by Philippe Drouillot, is a law firm with offices in Paris, Lyon and Marseille. It specialises in assisting its clients in all aspects of tax planning, audits, financial reporting and transfer pricing.
Law firm Lexcom Société d'Avocats advises a variety of clients on a wide array of tax and transfer pricing issues. Key areas include corporate and international tax, tax structuring, tax consolidation, VAT and other indirect taxes, tax treaties, withholding taxes, litigation and dispute services.
The tax practice at Linklaters is led by Henk Vanhulle, who has significant experience in corporate tax, with a particular emphasis on international tax planning, corporate finance, the tax implications of capital markets transactions and corporate M&A.
He leads a team (which is well spoken of by peers in the jurisdiction) which represents domestic and multinational groups and privately- and publicly-held companies in a range of industries across the spectrum of international taxation issues.
A key contact at Mayer Brown is Laurent Borey who leads the tax practice at the firm's offices in Paris. He leads a team which focuses on transactional work, with a particular reference to leveraged buy-outs (LBOs) M&A transactions and transfer pricing, as well as being extremely competent to offer counsel on various tax controversy issues, including dispute resolution and litigation.
McDermott Will & Emery in France is led by Antoine Vergnat, who along with two other tax professionals advises a number of high-calibre multinational groups on a range of tax issues. Notable clients include Mitsubishi, Fujitsu and the Intersnack Group.
The firm has particular expertise in structuring transactions to provide the most advantageous tax outcome for its clients, as well as advising both the buying and selling parties during M&A transactions and LBOs as well as offering more general taxation advice to a range of clients.
The firm was recommended by peers in France.
Moisand Boutin & Associés specialises in the tax aspects of M&A and LBOs, advising both the buy and the sell sides in these and other kinds of transactions. The firm also advises clients in the areas of indirect tax, corporate tax and international tax structuring.
A key contact at the firm is Michel-Pierre Boutin, who leads the tax practice having previously had 25 years of experience working in two Big 4 firms.
The tax team at Paul Hastings works alongside the corporate law and other legal practices at the firm to advise its clients on issues relating to the tax implications of capital markets investment, business structuring and transactional tax issues.
A key contact at the firm is Allard de Waal, a tax partner based at the firm's Paris office.
Philippe Derouin left Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom to set up his own eponymous firm. Having also previously worked at Gide Loyrette Nouel and Linklaters, he is well spoken of by his peers and has already built up an enviable client base advising on key taxation issues for a number of multinationals. His portfolio so far primarily includes clients in the FMCG, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, TMT, manufacturing and energy and utilities sectors.
PwC Société d'Avocats can offer its clients a truly international tax service through its membership of the international PwC network. The firm, which attempts to take a multidisciplinary approach to tax and transfer pricing issues, advises clients from a wide range of industries and company structures on an array of tax issues.
Shearman & Sterling is led by Niels Dejean, who originally joined the firm in 2002 having previously worked for a Big 4 firm. The team primarily advises real estate funds, financial institutions and insurance firms on a wide range of tax issues, although usually with a transactional focus.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's French tax practice is led by Thomas Perrot, who was appointed head of tax in November 2015. He leads a team which is skilled in all areas of corporate taxation. Perrot focuses on domestic and international M&A-related tax matters for listed and non-listed companies, as well as tax issues in connection with finance and financial instruments.
Professionals at Skadden represent clients from many industries on a wide range of issues.
The head of tax at Sullivan & Cromwell is Gauthier Blanluet, who works with a team consisting of two partners and three other tax professionals to deliver an all-round tax service to clients.
The lawyers at Sullivan & Cromwell are not sub-divided into specialisms which means that they are all able to advise clients on the full range of tax issues that may arise during the operation of a business. The team is extremely strong in areas such as corporate M&A, and commonly advises on the tax implications of capital markets transactions and related issues.
The firm is also increasingly active in the area of tax litigation, as well as dispute resolution and assistance during tax authority audits. It regularly represents large financial institutions and other kinds of multinational groups before the courts, with this kind of work representing up to 50% of the firm's work with clients.
Taj – Deloitte has 19 professionals working in the area of indirect tax, 130 in corporate tax and 28 in tax disputes. This year saw the tax team acquire a new partner in the shape of Eric Lesprit, who specialises in transfer pricing, and avocat associée Hélène Alston, who specialises in giving advice on asset management taxation.
From its offices across France, Taj advises French and international publicly- and privately-held companies on a range of tax issues, notably tax-efficient structuring, corporate taxation, the tax implications of M&A deals and audits and litigation.
Taylor Wessing is a UK-based law firm that has a small tax department in Paris fronted by partner Christophe Flaicher, who has strong experience in international tax structuring, transfer pricing structuring, M&A transactions and providing assistance during tax audits and litigation.
Veil Jourde has a team of tax professionals advising clients on the tax implications of M&A deals, business restructuring, LBOs and dispute resolution. It can also assist on employee profit sharing, financial tax issues, property tax and tax rectifications.
A key contact at Weil Gotshal & Manges is Stephane Chaouat, the firm's managing partner and tax leader in France. He specialises in corporate, indirect and individual taxation, and has practiced in New York and Paris, bestowing upon him knowledge of common and civil law legal systems, which is particularly useful in international taxation.
The team at Weil Gotshal & Manges advises a wide range of clients, including privately- and publicly-held companies and multinational groups, as well as financial institutions on a wide range of taxation issues, but with a particular focus on complex transactions and restructuring.
A key contact at White & Case is Alexandre Ippolito, the firm's executive partner, head of tax and head of the firm's Paris office. Ippolito is particularly astute when it comes to tax law, but also practices more general corporate law.
The team at White & Case offers a full taxation service to clients with a range of company structures from a broad field of industries.
Wilkie Farr & Gallagher's tax team is led by Marie-Hélène Raffin. The firm advises clients on all areas of tax law, notably: domestic and international tax-efficient structuring, the tax implications of M&A transactions, LBOs and more general tax strategic advice for businesses of all kinds.
Industries the firm is especially qualified to advise in include private equity, insurance, financial services, real estate and asset management.
Winston & Strawn in France is led by Gilles Bigot who is the firm's managing partner and tax practice leader, and has previously worked as a partner at a Big 4 firm. He leads a team of tax professionals in the fields of French, EU and international taxation and business law.
The team offers a full suite of tax services but is especially adept at advising clients during dispute resolution and audit and litigation proceedings. Its clients come mainly from the healthcare, life sciences and pharmaceuticals industries.
|Tier 1 - France|
|Arsene Taxand, Taxand France|
|CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre|
|Tier 2 - France|
|Baker & McKenzie|
|Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer|
|PwC Société d'Avocats|
|Taj - Deloitte|
|Tier 3 - France|
|Allen & Overy|
|Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton|
|Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier|
|Gide Loyrette Nouel|
|Latham & Watkins|
|Shearman & Sterling|
|Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom|
|Sullivan & Cromwell|
|Willkie Farr & Gallagher|
|Tier 4 - France|
|August & Debouzy|
|De Pardieu Brocas Maffei|
|McDermott Will & Emery|
|Moisand Boutin & Associés|
|Weil, Gotshal & Manges|
|White & Case|
|Winston & Strawn|
|Tier 5 - France|
|Brandford Griffith & Associés|
|Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher|
|Lexcom Société d'Avocats|
|Firms to watch - France|