SJ Berwin Paris head leads fight against French tax laws

SJ Berwin’s Paris managing partner George Pinkham is leading a fight to clarify complicated tax laws which could lead to French members of a UK limited liability partnership (LLP) being taxed twice.

Although France and the UK signed a new Double Tax Treaty in January 2004, LLPs have been left out of the agreement. According to Pinkham this means that members of the French office of an LLP will end up being taxed both in France and in the UK.

As more UK firms begin to examine the potential of converting to LLP status, the issue has become more important for French offices, whose partners are concerned that they will suffer as a result of the new structure. Pinkham wants the authorities to clarify the rules urgently.

Pinkham told The Lawyer: “UK firms have a problem because France doesn’t recognise the transparency of LLPs. We are saddled with a very uncertain situation, which is that we don’t know how we are going to be treated tax-wise in France.

“That is a serious problem. Some sort of patch solution is going to have to be put together for all the French offices of the UK firms. My opinion is that this is going to take some time.”

Pinkham added that he understands the pressures driving UK firms to make the conversion, but that the situation plunges French partners into uncertainty.