It's not enough to declare oneself resident abroad to avoid or reduce certain French taxes: you really have to leave France by transferring your centers of interest.
In such cases, the tax authorities carry out meticulous verification investigations, and the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) does not accept false expatriations. In a case brought by a couple who had officially expatriated to Belgium, the Court recently ruled that the arguments put forward by the tax authorities were not seriously substantiated. To accept the reality of expatriation, it requires, like the tax authorities, the abandonment of a number of interests.
Keeping active bank accounts in France: a sign of things to come
For example, according to the judges, the tax authorities rightly consider that maintaining active bank accounts in France is an indication of non-expatriation. Likewise, affiliation to the French health insurance scheme and to supplementary health insurance in France. The fact that close family members have remained in France (parents and children) is also an indication of false expatriation. Likewise, the high electricity consumption of the French secondary residence, or the absence of rental receipts in Belgium.
The attestation of the mover who transported the furniture from France to Belgium was not considered conclusive, even though these French people had obtained Belgian nationality, which, according to them, presupposes a principal residence in that country. Nor was the attestation of the person who claimed to forward the mail to Belgium sufficient to contradict the tax authorities' evidence.
A thorough tax investigation
The accumulation of such details, revealing a meticulous tax investigation, was deemed sufficient to rule out the reality of expatriation. And in the face of the taxpayers' challenge, the Cour de cassation concluded that the judges were not even obliged "to follow the parties in the detail of their argumentation".