I belive you are only partially correct with regards tax withholding on French stocks. Based on my conversation with my broker about my experience with France's Total which I hold both in a taxable account and also in my IRA, I will tell you this about FTE: The withholding percentages are different depending on where you hold the shares.
The withholding percentages may be 25% if you hold FTE in a non-taxable account. If you hold FTE in a taxable account, the withholding is 15%. I just checked this and found it to be so with FTE that I hold in my taxable account: I got the div amount and 15% was then subtracted out. I also was charged a small fee-- under $1. I see also a few dollars were given to me that were classified as "DIVIDEND RECEIVED SUBSTITUTE PAYMENT". Whatever that is. ======== My accountant files Form 1116 to claim the taxes as a credit. This is too difficult a form for me to figure out. If you have under $1000 in foreign tax credits, then you don't need Form 1116, and claiming the foreign tax credit is much easier. Not that filling out the form saves me a bunch of money. The credit is limited by income, and some years for me I've found the form to be helpful, other times I just have a carry-over credit that gets carried-over and over.
If FTE isn't careful, the dividend will be 0 soon. Anyone been reading up on the company's serious growing liabilities -- $500 million owed via a subsidiary and another €127 million in European Commission fines?
I think (but not very sure) you had to pay foreign source tax, if you do not live in France, which must be indicated in your bank statement that informs you of the dividend. You can get back this foreign source tax from the French tax department or you may ask your broker to get it back for you. Your broker would certain charge you some fee for the services. I have just bought some FTE and am waiting for the next dividend payment.
The dividend is paid in Euros, then converted to dollars. The dividend was .8 Euros with a conversion rate after conversion fees of 1.409375.
Just for reference, the French Franc was eliminated when the EU introduced the Euro. Most currencies in the EU were converted at that time. There are a few countries that refused to eliminate their currency and convert to the Euro, such as Sweden, UK, Norway to name a few.