As an alternative to French ownership via fiduciary structures, French ownership can be held through civil partnerships ("civil partnerships", also known as "CIS"). There is no public register that reveals the identity of the beneficial owner of an SCI. The French tax authorities normally charge a 3% tax on the market value of all real estate held by a trust, but if information on the economic ownership of the tax authorities is disclosed confidentially or if an obligation is provided upon request, GSI is not liable for this tax. The French legislature has taken steps to recognise trusts as a legitimate means of holding French assets and, therefore, subject them, in certain cases, to French income tax, wealth tax and inheritance tax. Yet the general perception in France is that trusts are a means of tax evasion and that they are treated with suspicion. This February 2007 law is almost identical to the original bill, presented to Parliament in 2005 by Senator Philippe Marini, who himself followed in the footsteps of other previous bills. At first glance, the Treuhand appears to be a replica of the Anglo-American "trust" or the recognized institution in Lichtenstein or Luxembourg. However, further examination shows that it is a tool with limited effectiveness. The register was initially made public and freely accessible to all French taxpayers on 4 July 2016, via their own private access to the website of the French tax administration. A U.S. citizen, also a tax resident in France, immediately challenged the public nature of the registry on the grounds that it violated her fundamental right to privacy, since the details of the trusts she had set up for her estate planning were disclosed in the registry and can be included for all.
As a civil court, France has always had complicated relations with trusts. Cécile Schlub, senior partner in Monaco, describes the latest developments, including the Constitutional Court`s suspension of a public register of trusts linked to France in October 2016. It also discusses the possibility of retaining ownership through a civil society. Something of an unknown creature that some observers say is long overdue, but greeted with skepticism by others, the concept of trust inspired by the Anglo-American idea of a "trust" has finally been introduced into French law. Due to the reputation of trusts for opacity, not to mention their strong power of attraction in tax havens, the fiduciary is largely suspicious in France. This new law has consequently limited the scope of application of agents and has tried to maintain their fiscally neutral position, which removes much of the interest that this instrument might otherwise have aroused. . . .