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What you need to know about your 2018 French council tax bill

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What you need to know about your 2018 French council tax bill
Photo: AFP
14:20 CEST+02:00
The deadline for paying your French council tax bill (Taxe d'habitation) is approaching and while millions of households in France will see their bill drop this year, some will have to cough up more cash in 2018. This is everything you need to know about this year's payment.
How is council tax changing in France?
 
The French government is aiming to abolish council tax (or taxe d'habitation in French) by 2021 and as part of the phasing out period this year, 22 million French households will see their council tax (or taxe d'habitation in French) go down by 30 percent. 
 
These 22 million households account for 80 percent of taxpaying households. 
 
If you are among them, you will receive or will already have received a letter from the government informing you that this year your tax bill has dropped by 30 percent, detailing how much you need to pay and what you would have been expected to pay before the discount. 
 
In 2019, these households will see their bill drop by 65 percent and by 2020 they won't be paying any taxe d'habitation at all. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
What about the other 20 percent of French households?
 
While 80 percent of households are already part of the tax reform roll out, the other 20 percent of French households aren't. 
 
If you're single and earning more than €2,592 per month or in a couple with children earning more than €4,722 per month, you are not currently affected by this first drop in council tax payments.
 
These households can expect not to have to pay council tax by 2021. 
 
What's the catch?
 
Well, even if you are among the 80 percent of households who receive a discount in 2018, you may still end up paying more in council tax this year.
 
That's because some local authorities have decided to increase their rates, included in the bill, as a way of pulling in more cash before the tax is completely abolished in a few years.  
 
"Local authorities were always going to have the opportunity to remove some existing allowances or increase rates," Anne Guyot-Welke, spokesman for the union of tax officials, Solidaires Public Finances, told Le Parisien.
 
According to a parliamentary report published this summer, at least 5,680 municipalities have increased their tax rate in 2018 so in many cities and villages taxpayers will see their bills rise despite the discount from the government.
 
Many local authorities have voiced their concern about the loss in revenue that ditching council tax will incur. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Does this mean we can expect taxes to go up again?
 
Council tax brought in a little over €20 billion in revenue to local authorities so clearly they will have to make up for the shortfall somewhere.
 
While the state has committed to making up for the shortfall, it has also admitted that, for now at least, that it doesn't know how. 
 
While a law is expected to be announced next year to complete the financing of this reform, taxpayers have been warned that "there is a risk of an impact on property taxes, which, presumably, will increase," tax lawyer Virginie Pradel told Le Parisien.
 
And she isn't the only one who believes this will be the likely outcome.
 
"I do not see how some municipalities will be able to do anything other than increase the property tax," said Philippe Laurent from the Association of Mayors of France.
 
What if you own a second home?
 
The government's reform to abolish council tax only concerns primary residences. Clearly, second home owners are and will always be subject to the housing tax.
 
When's the deadline?
 
All payments are due by November 15th. 
 
Can I find out how much I will have to pay before my bill arrives?
 
If you want to get an idea of how much you'll be expected to cough up this year, you can visit Impots.gouv.fr where you'll find a calculator which should be able to give you an idea.
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