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Amending protocol to treaty between France and Qatar – details — Orbitax Tax News & Alerts

Details of the amending protocol, signed on 14 January 2008, to the France-Qatar tax treaty signed on 4 December 1990 have become available. The protocol was concluded in the French and Arabic languages, both texts being equally authentic. The protocol came into force after ratification in March 2009, with effect from 1 January 2007. Key elements of the protocol are summarized as follows:

-   the protocol provides for 0% withholding tax in case of dividends, interest and royalties if the recipient is the beneficial owner (Arts. 8, 9 and 10 of the treaty; Arts. 3, 4 and 5 of the protocol);
-   the protocol introduces a new Art. 16A covering other income (Art. 16A of the treaty, Art. 7 of the protocol);
-   the protocol amends Art. 20(1)(b) of the treaty by stipulating that nothing in the treaty shall prevent the contracting states from enforcing the domestic anti-abuse rules agreed by the two competent authorities; and
-   the agreement in form of an exchange of letters signed on 12 January 1993 provides "a common interpretation intended to specify certain provisions of [the treaty]". The protocol (Para. 7) further adds to the agreement by stipulating that nothing in the treaty can prevent the application of Art. 123bis (i.e. PFICs), 209B (i.e.CFCs), 212 (i.e. Thin Capitalization) and 238A (i.e. deemed abnormal act of management with non-cooperative jurisdictions) of the French General Tax Code (Code Général des Impôts) by the French authorities.

The protocol further provides for a new Art. 21A in the treaty in order to extend administrative assistance in line with the standards set in Art. 26 of the OECD Model Convention.

The protocol provides for the exchange of information that is relevant to the administration or enforcement of the domestic tax laws of the contracting states.

For privacy reasons, exchanged information may be disclosed only to bodies (including courts) involved in the assessment, collection, or enforcement or prosecution, in respect of the determination of appeals, in relation to the taxes covered by the treaty. Such information may additionally be disclosed in public court proceedings and judicial decisions.

The contracting states are not obliged to:

-   carry out administrative measures which are at variance with laws or the administrative practices of the other contracting state;
-   supply information which is not obtainable under the laws or in the normal course of administration of the other contracting state;
-   supply information which would disclose any trade, business, industrial, commercial or professional secret or trade process, or which would be contrary to public order (ordre public); or
-   obtain or provide information which would reveal confidential communications between a client and an attorney, solicitor or other admitted legal representative.

However, a contracting state may not decline the supply of information solely because:

-   it has no domestic interest in such information; or
-   the information is held by a bank, other financial institution, nominee or person acting in an agency or fiduciary capacity, or because it relates to ownership interest in a person.