Article 20 of the USA-France tax treaty provides a benefit for teachers and researchers. When they have been a resident of country A and go to country B to do research, their income from research is only taxable in country A. (My understanding is that this applies both when A=France and B=USA, or the reverse.)

Quoting paragraph 1:

  1. An individual who is a resident of a Contracting State immediately before his visit to the other Contracting State and who, at the invitation of the Government of that other State or of a university or other recognized educational or research institution situated in that other State, visits that other State for the primary purpose of teaching or engaging in research, or both, at a university or other recognized educational or research institution shall be taxable only in the first- mentioned State on his income from personal services for such teaching or research for a period not exceeding 2 years from the date of his arrival in the other State. An individual shall be entitled to the benefits of this paragraph only once.

"This benefit can only be claimed once." What does this mean?

  • Can it be claimed once for a period of two full years from the date of arrival? If so, then it would be claimed on up to 3 different tax returns, as this 2 year period typically overlaps with 3 tax years.
  • Or can it be claimed only on a single tax return (i.e. only in one of those three tax years)?

To have a concrete example, suppose a date of arrival of 1 June 2000. Then can this benefit be claimed for all of Jun 2000 - May 2002? Or only for one of Jun-Dec 2000, Jan-Dec 2001, or Jan-May 2002?

I am looking for referenced answers. References can be in English or French, and should clarify this point.

This kind of clause appears in multiple tax treaties, but I have been unable to find a clear explanation of its meaning.

  • Why are you changing the wording of the sentence? It says "entitled to the benefits of this paragraph only once." To me, that means yes, you can claim the exception for up to two years, but only once in a lifetime. So you couldn't work in B for two years, go back to A, then return five years later and claim the tax exemption again.
    – mkennedy
    May 4 '17 at 22:44
  • 1
    OP has not returned to clarify question above, putting on hold
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 4 '17 at 2:17