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Dual nationals turn their back on France

Paris Eiffel tower in winter
More dual French-Swiss nationals give Paris the cold shoulder Keystone

An increasing number of citizens with dual French and Swiss nationality are handing in their French passports thought to be linked to a dispute over taxes between the two neighbouring countries.

Figures published by the French foreign ministry show that 113 people gave up their French nationality last year. That’s 42% up on 2012 and 111 more citizens than in 2010.

The main reason for the sharp increase is pressure by Paris on Switzerland, according to a Swiss-based French parliamentarian, Claudine Schmid. 

Schmid has asked the French foreign ministry for an explanation for the rise but has not yet had a response. 

One of the main bones of contention is thought to be a controversial inheritance tax treaty. France has revoked the 1953 treaty on inheritance tax with Switzerland. The Swiss parliament for its part refuses to discuss a new deal. 

Paris has been pushing for a revised inheritance convention under which inheritances would be taxed based on where the recipient resides and not where the deceased person lived, as used to be the case.

Swiss parliamentarians on the right have led the charge against a new deal as well as the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad.

The French authorities have also been trying to recover lost tax income allegedly stashed abroad. France recently launched a voluntary disclosure programme for tax evaders in which more than 16,000 people participated so far. In 80% of the cases, the funds had been hidden in Swiss banks.

Most of the 190,00 Swiss abroad living in neighbouring France have dual citizenship. The more than 110,000 French nationals make up the fourth biggest group of foreign residents in Switzerland, according to official data.

In recent years a similar wave of passport renunciations has been observed among people with Swiss-US dual nationality.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR