The offshore trust, tax niche of billionaires

Everything is good to grab some small millions of euros on the back of the tax, as shown in the case, Bettencourt. But in the catalog of schemes and bundles (tax havens, offshore investments, foundations …) we did not mention the fashionable martingale: the trust.

The trust is neither a natural person nor a company nor anything. It’s an entity, an abstract reality. An act by which a person entrusts his property to another person, so that it manages them for the benefit of a third person, before handing them to a fourth person – the one who, at the expiry of the trust, pockets the setting. All this under the possible control of a fifth thief called the “protector”.

I know, I know, we do not understand anything. But it’s on purpose. Especially since it can be complicated when there is a meeting of several trusting candidates.

What an advantage, you will say to me. Well, the main advantage is that the assets put in trust no longer appear in the patrimony of their owner. Since legally, he has disposed of it in favor of the trust – until he or she or his heirs get it back.

A good trick trust, no!

You think that the tax administration has long been interested in this gem of Anglo-Saxon law. But she has more or less broken her teeth. Thus, the Nanterre Court of First Instance ruled that a French resident could not be subject to the ISF for income from a trust created in the US. And, in 2007, the Court of Cassation broke the nail in a judgment that highlights the fiscal interest of trust open abroad.

” It can, therefore, be used to plan an estate, prepare for retirement, fund a charity … or simply organize a temporary separation. Thus, Sylvio Berlusconi put in a trust his stakes in Italian television during his tenure as prime minister, “reads Money Week. And to cite the example of a US resident, a French citizen, who died in France in 1995, whose heirs (French) have cashed in the estate without paying a cent to the tax authorities. Because the deceased no longer legally owns the property, it was not a legacy but a transfer for free.

Not to be outdone, in 2007, France created its own trust but reserved only for companies: trust.

Article 2011 of the Civil Code gives us this definition, convoluted with pleasure: ” The trust is the transaction by which one or more constituents transfer goods, rights or security interests, or a group of goods, rights or interests. security, present or future, to one or more trustees who, holding them separate from their personal assets, act for a specific purpose for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. “


It was said, at the time, to curb offshoring. Yet last year, the trust opened to individuals.

To put it simply, today,  for a fixed fee of € 125, each can create his trust. Still, there must be something to put in it. One can imagine the advantages on the ISF or the inheritance tax … But I am perhaps bad tongue: the law is too recent to have the slightest idea of ​​its fiscal interlinkings.

In the meantime, if Mrs. Bettencourt had slipped her island into a trust under Anglo-Saxon law, which is as old to her as the world, the aces of the financial brigade could have sought for a long time to whom she belonged, because she would not have belonged to anybody.

So why did not his wealth managers use this ploy? I will be careful not to repeat the opinion of the tax lawyer who made the effort to introduce me to these techniques …

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