On 24 September 2020, the French Tax Authority published the tax form needed to declare manual gifts (Cerfa n° 2035) and, notably, cash gifts up to EUR 100,000 that are temporarily exempted from gift tax. This temporary exemption was created by the third Amending Finance Law of 30 July 2020, applies to certain family gifts that may be used toward limited eligible expenses, and only applies to sums paid between 15 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.
The gift tax exemption is subject to certain conditions and limitations. Only gifts meeting the following conditions are eligible:
- They must consist of cash (i.e., real estate, securities, artworks, cars, etc., are excluded);
- The donee must receive full ownership (i.e., split ownership (e.g., bare ownership and usufruct) is not allowed)
- The donee must be in the donor’s direct descending line (i.e., child, grandchild, or great-grandchild) or, absent a descending line, the donor’s collateral line (e.g., nephew or niece), but third parties and ascendants (parents, etc.) are excluded; and
- Gifts from the same donor to the same donee cannot exceed EUR 100,000 and any one particular donor cannot gift more than this amount in total.
Also, a gift must be used for one of the following purposes no later than the last day of the third month following the month the gift was made:
- Investment in a start-up (as defined in the finance law) in which the donor carries out his or her main professional activity or is a corporate officer for at least three years as from the date of the gift (as long as the investment does not constitute state aid under EU Commission rules);
- Energy efficiency improvements to the donee’s principal residence, subject to the work being eligible for the pre-existing energy transition tax credit (prime de transition énergétique); or
- Construction of the donee’s principal residence (an earlier version of the bill allowed for the acquisition of the donee’s principal residence but this was later deleted).
In addition to the anti-abuse uprovisions mentioned above, a donee cannot benefit from both the gift tax exemption and certain tax credits and tax reductions/rebates.
The gift tax exemption will expire on 30 June 2021 as it is only meant to alleviate the impact of COVID-19. Indeed, debates in Parliament show that this exemption was created to encourage cash transfers between “seniors and the working-age population,” and thus “kickstart economic recovery” through consumption and investment by “ending the savings lockdown.” As reported by the author of the original text of the law, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that the net asset value of households of people under 30 years old was EUR 38,500 as of 2018 while that of households of people over 60 years old was EUR 315,000.