In a recent decision, the French Administrative Supreme Court (Conseil d'Etat) has provided details on the admissibility of claims made by non-residents to obtain a refund of French withholding tax paid on dividends.
Non-resident taxpayers must produce any documents indicating the date of payment of the tax and the identity of the distributing company (or "paying agent").
However, if they can prove that they are unable to obtain this information, their claim is admissible if they produce a bank statement or any equivalent document issued by a financial intermediary indicating the International Securities Identification Number of the shares giving rise to the dividends, their date of registration on the bank account, the date of the dividend payment and their gross and net amounts.
Provision of this information will allow the identification of the distributing company and enable the French tax authorities to request any additional documents if necessary.
However, this exception only applies if the financial intermediary is located in a jurisdiction which has concluded a tax treaty with France containing an administrative assistance clause.