No real estate wealth tax for barges

En 2017, Emmanuel Macron, presidential candidate, had promised to reform the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF), which he considered “Ineffective”. After its victory, the Parliament therefore replaced the ISF by the tax on real estate wealth (IFI), which it reduced the base to only real estate. Mobile goods such as yachts, private jets or racing cars ceased to be subject to personal tax. “Richer”. But not the barges …

The Nanterre judicial court has just corrected this oversight, at the request of Mr. X, owner of a barge of 250 square meters, moored in Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine). In February 2019, this taxpayer assigned the director of public finances for the Ile-de-France region, so that he could be ordered to discharge him from the taxation, under the IFI, of his floating establishment.

The stakes are high for him: until 2018, Mr. X, owner of this property worth 620,000 euros, but also of an apartment of 690,000 euros, was subject to the ISF, given that its assets exceeded the threshold of 1.3 million euros. If he obtains this discharge, he will escape the IFI, whose trigger threshold is precisely 1.3 million euros.

“Regularly moved”

The tax administration is reluctant: the tax code, who “Gives no definition” goods constituting the basis of the IFI, does not exclude barges, she argues. Certainly, she admits, her own doctrine declares non-taxable constructions which are not fixed to the ground and which can be transported easily. But precisely ! Mr. X’s boat is “Not motorized” and “Cannot be considered to be easily transportable”. In addition, it is, like all houseboats occupying a fixed point on the public domain, “Liable to property tax on built properties ; this oddity inherited from the past and contested by certain associations would prove ” his real estate character “.

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Me Frédéric Niel, partner at Sand Avocats, disputes this interpretation. He replies that, for lack of definition of real estate in the tax code, it is necessary to refer to the civil code. Now this one says than “Boats, ferries, ships … are movable”, it does not matter whether they are motorized or not, whether they are for residential use or not. Furthermore, Mr. X’s barge is not “Fixed to the quay ” : she is “Regularly moved” for her hull to be inspected.

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