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Price hikes: How life in France will get a little more expensive in 2018

A new year means new prices, so life in France is going to get a little more expensive in 2018. Here are the fee changes to look out for, and what they mean for your wallet.

Price hikes: How life in France will get a little more expensive in 2018
File photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

Stamps

Fans of snail mail can expect a hefty price increase on stamps, after an already significant price raise in 2017.

Red stamps, used for the one-day ‘prioritaire’ service will see an almost 12 percent increase from 85 to 95 cents, having already risen by 5 cents last year, while the green stamp, for letters usually delivered within two days, will go up from 73 to 80 cents. The Ecopli service, for letters under 250 grams, remains the cheapest but stamps will now cost 78 cents, up from 71.

For green and red stamps, the two pricier domestic options, customers can get a three-cent discount by buying them online.

Gas

Almost every month, gas prices in France see a change, and January 2018 is no exception, with the fees from the main provider Engie on the rise for the fourth month in a row.

As a guide, gas will cost 0.7 percent more for those who only use it for cooking, 1.4 percent who use gas for cooking and hot water, and 2.4 percent in households heated by gas.

 

Petrol and diesel price rises

Bad news for motorists as the price of petrol will rise by 7.6 cents per litre in France and the price of diesel by 3.84 cents. 

Cigarettes

The French government is on track to make cigarettes €10 a packet in three years time, but the price hike will be staggered. In March smokers will have to pay €1.10 extra for a packet of cigarettes. 

Vélib

France’s bike-sharing scheme has moved from JCDecaux to Smovengo, and the change of hands means some changes that will affect its users.

READ MORE: Paris: Here's how the Velib' bike share is set to change

As well as introducing several electric bikes, this also means prices are going up.

Customers will be able to choose between a one- or seven-day pass, for €5 or €15 respectively, or a monthly subscription, with prices starting at €3.10 or €8.30 and additional charges depending on how much you use the service. There’s also a free subscription offer, where users pay a slightly higher rate per minute. Full details of the new fees can be found on the scheme’s website.

You better Velib' it: Cost of renting Paris city bikes could jump in future
Photo: AFP

Parking

2018 brings the end of France’s nationwide €17 fine for those found guilty of parking offences, with the charge being replaced with a ‘post-parking fee’ (SPF), which will be set individually by each municipality.

This fee may not be higher than the rate for the maximum authorized parking period, so it varies considerably across the country, ranging from €10 in Castres to €60 in central Lyon, according to Autoplus.fr.

Drivers in the capital will risk parking fines of €50 in the first 11 arrondissements and €35 in the rest, though there will be a significant reduction — to €35 or €24.50 respectively – for prompt payment.

Banking

On average, bank fees will see a 0.25 percent increase in 2018 compared to last year, with the annual charge an average of € 194.30, according to a study from financial comparison site Panoramabanques. The good news is that this a much more modest increase in fees than in the past two years.

The study from Panorabanques looked at the rates of 158 banks which represent 95 percent of the total market, and found that 99 of them would raise their fees this year — by an average of €4 — while 44 will get cheaper.

Hospital charges

Most standard hospital expenses are covered by France’s social security, except for a flat fee — le forfait hospitalier or hospital copayment — which patients have to pay for each day spent in hospital.

This charge has been fixed at €18 per day since 2010, but goes up to €20 this year. However, the vast majority of the population don’t pay this fee directly, as it is covered by other insurance policies.

And the good news…

Bonus to change old cars

2018 is a good year to get rid of an old vehicle, as France’s ‘scrapping bonus’ paid out to those who get an old car scrapped in order to buy a more environmentally-friendly one, will be extended to many more motorists.

It’s expected to apply to around 100,000 cars each year, a significant increase since only 21,000 vehicles were eligible for the bonus between April 2015 and September 2017. For the first time, non-taxable households will be eligible.

So how does it work? Anyone scrapping a private diesel car or van registered before 2001 (or 2006, for non-taxable households), or a petrol car or van registered before 1997, and replacing it with a less polluting vehicle, will get money towards the purchase.

The bonus is € 2500 for a new electric vehicle, € 1000 for a new rechargeable hybrid vehicle, or €1,000 for a second-hand electric vehicle, which increases to € 2,000 for non-taxable households.

For members

MONEY

Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Cryptocurrency is big business in France but the rules on the taxation of income from the currency differ to other countries.

Do you pay tax on cryptocurrency in France and if so, how much?

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Tether. Mining. Binance. To the uninitiated, cryptocurrency can sound like a different language. But, in France, it’s big business, with an estimated 3.4 million people reportedly holding at least some “crypto”.

In May, France became the first major European nation to give approval for cryptocurrency exchange Binance to operate in the country.

But this does not mean the country is operating a light touch on cryptocurrency regulations – a fact Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s CEO and founder, recognised at an event in Paris in April to launch a government-backed programme for “Web3” start-ups.

As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, more and more people may be looking to get on board. But, is it taxable? How is it taxable, and how much tax do you have to pay?

First things first: yes, cryptocurrency income is taxed. It’s income. It’s taxable.

The tax rate applicable for capital gains and income from crypto assets depends on whether you’re a professional trader, an occasional investor or a miner.

France’s Direction Générale des Finances Publiques (DGFiP) says that capital gains from the sale of crypto assets like bitcoins are currently taxed at the following rates:

Occasional investors – flat tax rate of 30 percent, made up of 12.8% income tax and 17.2% for social security contributions

Professional traders – BIC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

Crypto Miners – BNC tax regime of 0-45 percent.

The flat rate for occasional investors applies to individuals with financial investments in crypto assets, and other investment income like dividends and life insurance, not to professional traders. 

The DGFiP will only tax capital gains from crypto when crypto is converted into euros or any other fiat currency, if the total capital gain exceeds 305€ per year.

That means those who only dabble in crypto pay less than those who make their living from it.

The difference between an occasional investor and professional trader lies in how often you “dabble”. 

The more you play the crypto market, the more likely you are to be regarded as a professional trader – in which case the variable rate of 0 percent to 45 percent applies.

The point at which an occasional investor and professional trader isn’t obvious – that decision is made on a case-by-case basis – but the DGFiP’s working out on this calculation is based on the total investment amount, trade volumes, and how often you sell cryptocurrency. 

The more often you do this, the more likely you are to be considered a trader.

Mining, meanwhile, falls under the non-commercial profits regime of the general tax code. For more details, click on the government website, here.

As for declaring any crypto accounts you may have, there’s a special section on your annual French income tax declaration. Transfers into legal tender currency (but not another cryptocurrency), as well as purchases of goods or services using crypto, are taxable.

The overall amount of the capital gain (or loss) for the year must be entered in the annual income tax return, along with the details of the transactions

Fines for failure to declare a single bank account or investment scheme are hefty – from €1,500 to €10,000, with €3,000 being a fairly common penalty. These amounts are applied to each account you fail to declare.

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