France abolishes time limitation period extension for EU claims
France amends its legislation regarding applicable time limitation period
French tax law provides for an ordinary time limitation period of three years, starting as from 1 January of the year following the year in which the withholding tax has been paid.
An extension was however possible in case a court ruling unveiled an incompatibility of French law with a higher rule of law. For instance, the European Court of Justice’s decision in the Santander Case of May 2012 allows claimants to file claims up until 31 December 2014, requesting a refund of withholding tax paid as early as 1 January 2009.
Following the adoption of the Third Amended Finance Act - applicable as of 1 January 2013 (i.e. decisions unveiling such incompatibility rendered as from that date) - the above extension has been abolished. Therefore, the normal claim period of three years should be respected regardless of any decision stating that French law is incompatible with a higher rule of law, so that rapid action may be required after such decision in order to safeguard any claim possibilities.
Please note that this amendment should not have any consequences on the viability of the claims filed on the basis of the Aberdeen and Santander decisions. The Santander decision having been rendered by the European Court of Justice in May 2012, it should not fall within the scope of this new legislative amendment and investment funds wishing to recover unduly levied French withholding tax may still file claims until 31 December 2014 for dividends paid as of 1 January 2009.
However, such extended time limitation period (i.e starting as of 1 January of the third year preceding and until 31 December of the second year following that on which the decision unveiling the incompatibility of French law with EU law was rendered) should no longer be applicable, for any CJEU decisions rendered as of 1 January 2013 that would conclude the non-compatibility of French law with EU law.
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