The French income tax structure is based on the concept of an integrated tax system. The system utilizes a tax credit at the shareholder level to eliminate or mitigate the double taxation that would otherwise apply to a dividend. The tax credit is automatically available to a French shareholder receiving a dividend from a French corporation. The "precompte mobilier " (or precompte) is a mechanism that provides for the integration of the tax credit to the shareholder with the taxes paid by the corporation. The precompte is a tax paid by the corporation at the time of a dividend distribution that is equal to the difference between a tax based on the regular corporation tax rate applied to the amount of the declared dividend and taxes previously paid by the corporation on the income being distributed. In addition, if a corporation pays a dividend from earnings that have been retained for more than five years, the corporation loses the benefit of any taxes previously paid in the computation of the precompte. The issue is whether a tax that is assessed on a corporation based on dividends distributed, such as the French precompte tax, should be recorded as an increase in income tax expense or considered to be in effect a withholding of tax for the recipient of the dividend and recorded in equity as part of the dividend paid to shareholders
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