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The French tax declaration tips you need to know

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The French tax declaration tips you need to know
Photo: AFP
17:34 CEST+02:00
It's tax declaration season in France. Here are some tips that will help you get over what can be a troublesome obstacle.
With the result of the French presidential election (and the members of the new government) decided, many in France have turned their attention to more personal matters; holidays, summer parties and the dreaded tax returns.
 
If you have lived in France for at least six months and earned some money in 2016 then the chances are you will need to fill your tax return in too and do it on time (or possibly face a fine).
 
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions to help make this process less painful.
 
When are the deadlines?
 
For those doing it the old fashioned way (handwritten on a paper form) you have (or had) until midnight on Wednesday 17 May.
 
For those doing it online via impots.gouv.fr - you have a bit longer.
 
Nb. If you earned more than €28,000 in 2016 you must submit your form online this year.
 
For online submissions the deadline depends on the department in which you live.
  • Those in regions 01 to 19 and all non-residents have until midnight on 23 May
  • Those in regions 20 to 49 (and both departments in Corsica) must declare by midnight on 30 May
  • In regions 50 to 976 people have until midnight on 6 June. 
Missing the deadline means risking a fine of 10 percent of the total tax bill, which can rise to 40 percent if a preliminary warning letter is sent by the tax department. 
 
How many forms per household?
 
Normally each tax payer declares individually however in France there are exceptions as tax is judged on "household income".
  • If you are married or in a civil partnership then you only need to fill in one per couple, but other couples who simply live together must do separate declarations.
  • If you divorced during 2016 then you and your ex partner must fill in one each (irrespective of the month that you split up). 
  • All those aged under 21 years can be included on their parents tax form, under 25s can too, but only if they are in full time study.
Which earnings do I have to declare?
 
Basically all your income, including those revenues you earned abroad either via work, renting flats, bank account interest or any other form of earning money.
  • Any fixed salary you earned from your employer as well as any pay/bonuses for overtime.
  • Any supplementary earnings that you gained from your employer: e.g. for the 13th month payment, loyalty bonuses etc.  
  • Any unemployment benefits or pre-retirement earnings.
  • Pensions and earnings from e.g. renting out properties either in France or abroad including those done through Airbnb.
  • Investments (including ISAs etc.)
  • Any earnings made as a non-salaried (freelance) employee

Note you are also required to let the French tax man know of any foreign bank accounts you hold.

But none of the following need to be declared - bursaries, internship allowances, earnings up to €4400  for those in full time study. 
 
Can I correct my declaration after I’ve clicked ‘submit’?
 
Yes, you can modify any details in your online form right up until the deadline.
 
And if you discover an error once you receive your tax form from the authorities, from August to December this year you’ll be able to correct it. The tax office will then send you a corrected version of the form within three weeks. 
 
What if I’m filling in a tax return online for the first time?
 
First timers must create a password and have an email address. 
 
Once registered you’ll be asked to declare your earnings and your 13 figure numéro fiscal (tax number) that is featured on your most recent tax form as well as a whole host of other details including date of birth etc.
 
Is there any one-to-one help available? 
 
Yes. There are agents at 2000 tax officers across the country who are paid to answer your queries or help you fill in your form.
 
For complex cases they prefer you to book an appointment with an advisor.
 
Public accountants are offering free telephone consultations until 23 May using the hotline 08.000.65.432. Free (face to face) consultations are also available (with no need for an appointment) in regional public accounting centres. For more info go to Allo-impot.fr

 What if I have any other specific questions?

Try the impôts.gouv.fr website which has a comprehensive FAQs section - https://www.impots.gouv.fr/portail/particulier
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