Is France set to scrap the dreaded annual tax declaration?

With France having finally introduced a pay-as-you-earn income tax system earlier this year will it be getting rid of the annual tax declaration?

Is France set to scrap the dreaded annual tax declaration?
Photo: AFP

What has happened?

Since the start of January, French income tax has been automatically taken out of salaries, pensions and substitute income (for example maternity leave or job seekers' allowance) instead of being paid a year late as it was before.

This new system (called prélèvement à la source in French), aims to be more adaptable: taxpayers now automatically pay tax each month directly from their salaries as they earn it, and not a year later as they did before.
The shift to a pay-as-you-earn system was actually adopted by the Socialist government of Macron's predecessor Francois Hollande, but was only implemented in January this year, after some dithering by Macron on the issue.
What did it mean for salaried workers in France?
It meant two things; Firstly monthly pay slips now contain less, as the tax has already been deducted as well as the social security contributions which had always been subtracted from pay directly.
Many French workers spoke of their shock in January when they opened their first ready-taxed pay packet but the reform passed smoothly and there was no widespread rebellion that some in the government had feared.
But workers still have to fill out the annual tax declaration in May in order to make sure they are paying the right amount of income tax. Some could be in for refunds while other workers might find they owe the tax man some money, once those declarations are made.
But the annual tax declaration – a form dreaded by many, may soon become a thing of the past, or at least that's according to France's Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin.
So the declaration's going?
Quite possibly.
Darmanin says income tax payers will have to complete one more déclaration d’impôt before it disappears from their lives forever (unless they are self-employed).
He told French newspaper La Tribune: “Next year I will without doubt announce the end of the tax return. You will not have to file your tax return.”
So the coming declaration in the spring will still have to be filled in. And we will wait and see whether Darmanin follows through on his word.
Who do I call if there is a problem?
The taxman (and not your employer) is the person to go to for any issues arising out if the new income-tax rules and calculations on your payslip. 
The government has set up a national helpline (in French) to answer any questions about the reform. The number is 0 809 401 401. So far, it has received over 1 million calls since the beginning of January.
There's also lots of information on this government website. Otherwise, if you have any questions you can also contact your local tax office directly.


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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.