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The essential information about this year's French tax declarations

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The essential information about this year's French tax declarations
It's tax time! Photo: AFP
12:53 CEST+02:00
The deadline is looming for the annual tax declaration in France, so here's what you need to know about the important task and what's different about it this year.

Do I have to do it?

Yes, everyone in France must fill in the Déclaration des Revenus form, even if you are now taxed at source on your income ahead of the new pay-as-you earn rules. Introduced in January 2019, the new rules take tax directly off your pay packet, but the declaration that is due now looks back at income from 2018.

Unlike in the UK, the French tax year runs from January 1st to December 31st. 

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The high French tax burden has been a major factor cited by 'yellow vest' protesters. Photo: AFP

When do I need to do it by?

It depends on whether you are filing on paper or online. Online declarations opened on Wednesday, April 10th and paper declarations opened the week before. The deadline to have the paper form completed and submitted is Thursday, May 16th. The deadline for online forms varies in different areas, if you live in départements 1 to 19 it's May 21st, for départements  20 to 49 it's May 28th and for départements 50 plus the deadline is June 4th.

Can I only do it online?

If you are declaring for the first time you will have to fill in the paper form - you can get this at your local tax office or download it and print it from the tax site.

However everyone else must file their return online.

In 2018 some 60 percent of tax payers had already switched to online declarations and this year the final 40 percent - some 15 million workers will follow.

This year for the first time declaring online is obligatory for everyone  unless you cannot use the internet, for example exceptions may be made for the elderly and people who have no internet connection - particularly those who live in certain 'white zones' of the country which have no internet connection.

Note that if you are struggling La Poste provides a service which will see an advisor sent to your house to help you fill in the form online. It will cost you 29 euros.

Online for the first time? 

If you are filling it in online for the first time then it's a fairly straightforward process.

You need to visit the site impots.gouv.fr and go to the section that says "votre espace particulier". This is where you recent declarations and tax bills will be found. You'll need three pieces of information to set up your account: your tax number, your online access number and your reference tax income. (votre numéro fiscal, votre numéro d'accès en ligne et votre revenu fiscal de référence).

These pieces of information are likely on tax forms stashed away in your drawers.

What do I need to declare?

Everything, basically. People often assume that anything they have already declared to the tax authorities in their home country does not need to be included on the French tax form, but this is not the case. The French taxman is asking for all of your assets, which includes income from rental properties in the UK or Ireland and income on financial products such as shares or ISAs in the UK.

All bank accounts must also be declared, even if they are dormant. New information-sharing rules between international banks mean that UK banks can and will tell the French taxman what accounts you have in the UK, and if that information doesn't match what is on your French declaration you could find yourself in trouble. 

Tax credits are available against tax you have already paid in the UK - so you don't end up paying twice on the same income - but you must still declare it.

International tax specialist Jason Porter explains more here.

 

Full details on when tax declarations are due. Graphic: French government
 
Taxed as a household 
 
In France you are taxed by household. This is another thing that is likely to change as a result of the new pay-as-you earn rules, but as this declaration is for income from 2018, the old rules still apply. 
 
So if you are a married couple or if you are “pacsed” (in a civil partnership) then you should make one joint declaration rather than two. If you got married halfway through the year you can now declare one common declaration for the whole year.
 
And if you have any children living with you that are earning then you'll need to declare their earnings too...and that includes any summer jobs. 
 
Tax deductibles
 
There are some professionals, including journalists, who receive tax breaks from the French government. 
 
The French can also claim tax breaks for house improvements, child care and gifting so it's worth asking if you think you might be able to benefit.  Find out more about the deductions available here.
 
Visit the English page of the tax authority's website
 
The tax section is less labyrinthine than some French government websites, and there is a section in English.
 
This can be found HERE.  
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