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TAXES

France to introduce tax on big US tech firms in January

France will introduce its own tax on large internet and technology companies like Google and Apple from January 1, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday amid difficulties in finalising a new EU-wide levy.

France to introduce tax on big US tech firms in January
Photo: AFP

France has been pushing hard for a new so-called “GAFA tax” — named after Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — to ensure the global giants pay a fair share of taxes on their massive business operations in Europe.

“The tax will be introduced whatever happens on January 1 and it will be for the whole of 2019 for an amount that we estimate at 500 million euros 
($570 million),” Le Maire told a press conference in Paris. 

The low tax rates paid by US tech giants in Europe has repeatedly caused anger among voters in many European countries but the 28-member bloc is divided on how to tackle the issue.

Ireland, which hosts the European headquarters of several US tech giants, leads a small group of otherwise mostly Nordic countries that argue a new tax could lead to reprisals against European companies and stoke anger in the US.

Any tax changes must be approved unanimously by member states.

France and Germany agreed earlier this month to introduce a new joint measure in 2021, which would give the Paris-based OECD time to work on a new global solution.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which groups major world economies, is working on a proposal for a new international scheme that would regulate taxation on tech firms.

Policymakers across the world have had difficulty in taxing the US-based giants who dominate their sectors internationally, but who often route their 
revenues and profits via low-tax jurisdictions to reduce their liabilities.

France's move to introduce the tax on January 1 could be driven by domestic budget concerns, with the finance ministry looking for new sources of revenues and savings.

Under pressure from “yellow vest” protesters, President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of measures last week for low-income families which has left a multi-billion-euro hole in the 2019 budget. 

Some other EU member states such as Britain, Spain and Italy are also working on national versions of a digital tax, with Singapore and India also 
planning their own schemes.

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PROPERTY

Why French homeowners face higher property taxes in 2023

As the 2022 deadline to pay property taxes in France approaches, homeowners will likely have to face higher property taxes in 2023.

Why French homeowners face higher property taxes in 2023

If you are a homeowner in France, you may want to consider putting some money aside as property taxes could increase significantly next year. 

The taxe foncière – a property ownership tax levied at local level – is a tax paid by all property owners in France. It is separate to the taxe d’habitation, which is paid by whoever occupies the property (whether they are an owner or a tenant) and applies to anyone who owns a building or land. The latter is being progressively phased out.

Why the possible increases?

A large reason property ownership taxes may increase in 2023 is due to the fact that property values are reevaluated each year in November according to inflation and other factors that have changed the value of the property such as home extensions or new swimming pools. 

In general, the rate of taxe foncière has increased in France in recent years is due to gradual scrapping of another property tax, taxe d’habitation that left local authorities short of cash.

Why did my bill go up for 2022 and what’s the deal for 2023?

For 2022, property tax payments are due on October 15th or 20th, depending on payment method. Many French homeowners were already met with an unpleasant surprise when they received their tax notices this year.

The revaluation to reflect inflation allowed for a 3.4 percent increase in 2022, which increased the property tax on all homeowners. Additionally, municipalities voted to increase local taxes. In Marseille, rates went up by 13.1 percent, for Tours it was 11.6 percent and Pau saw a rise of 10 percent. 

In 2023, these values could be even higher.

Theoretically, property values across France ought to be reevaluated to reflect skyrocketing inflation, which would lead to an increase of 7 percent (in comparison to the 3.4 percent rise that was seen in 2022). In June, the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire assured property-owners that this issue had been identified and that the government was considering capping the rate.

However, according to reporting by French daily Le Parisien, several senior officials have indicated that “no capped rate for the taxe foncière will be included in the finance bill to be presented in late September.”

READ MORE: Reader question: How can I challenge my French tax bill?

In effect, this means that the 2023 budget would allocate for an increase of property taxes by approximately 6.5 to 7 percent – a rise that would impact at least 30 million homeowners in France.

Various suggestions have been put forward aimed at keeping the taxe foncière bills down, such as capping increases to 3.5 percent or linking the the level of government assistance to local authorities to inflation (meaning local authorities would be less inclined to raise taxes).

Nevertheless, as of September 23rd, these solutions had not yet been put into place.

Second home owners to be harder hit

Second-home owners in France have to worry about the taxe d’habitation (residence tax) on top of the taxe foncière.

Even though the former is in the process of being phased out for most French residents – apart from the highest earners, those with second homes are still required to pay it.

And for many of those that do, the rates are going up.

In 2022, more towns have voted to increase it, while others gained the ability to add a surcharge for second-home owners, with French daily Le Parisien reporting that the taxe d’habitation “continues to soar.” 

Municipalities in zones tendues (areas with a housing shortage) have the ability to choose to increase taxe d’habitation by up to 60 percent for second home owners.

READ MORE: Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

From 2023, several new areas – including Nantes – will join the list of zones tendues, meaning they will be able to vote to increase taxes for second-home owners.

In 2022, large cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Biarritz, Arles and Saint-Jean-de-Luz saw their city councils vote to increase the tax at the maximum 60 percent.

How is taxe foncière calculated generally?

The formula is complicated, and it is calculated each year for you by your local authority (though under the auspices of a formula set by the French finance ministry). Basically, it has to do with the rentable value of your property divided by two and then multiplied by the tax level set by your local authority.

READ ALSO: Taxe foncière: What is the French property tax and do I have to pay it?

The local authority’s tax rate varies hugely from place to place, which is why two people with similar sized homes in different areas can end up with wildly different bills.

In fact to make it more complicated it’s actually three local authorities – the commune, the département and the région – which all set their own tax rates then divide up your tax to pay for local services.

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