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LIVING IN FRANCE

How to understand your French payslip

If you're an employee in France you will receive a monthly payslip and the first thing you will notice is that it's very long and complicated. Here's how to understand what happens to your monthly salary.

How to understand your French payslip
Photo: AFP

At first glance your take-home pay may seem quite generous, but as you go through your payslip you will notice quite a lot of deductions being taken off.

Of course it's not news that you will pay quite a lot of tax in France – in fact a 2019 Eurostat reported showed that France is the most taxed country in Europe.

Hopefully the high quality of the public services such as healthcare and public transport will soften the blow somewhat, but here is a quick guide to what is what on your payslip.

 

1. Personal details

At the top are the personal details for you and for your company.

This includes your name and address, plus the name, address and SIRET number of your company.

READ ALSO What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial?

It also includes your social security number – the same number found on your carte vitale – and how many hours per month you are contracted to work (heures).

Also included is your job title and the category you fall into – worker, middle, manager, senior manager etc. This are important because they can affect some of the perks and benefits you are entitled to. There is also the coefficient du contrat de travail followed by a number, which also details what type of employee you are and your seniority level.

The date début d'anciennetè is the date you started at the company. 

Finally there is the date that the payslip covers.

Payslips in France are used for more than simply confirming your salary, they are a way of proving your income and you may be asked to supply your last three months' payslips (bulletin de paie or fiche de paie) for several events such as renting a new home or applying for a visa or residency permit, so it's important that you have a complete set of payslips.

Your company should send them to you, either by post or email, but if not you should chase them up as these documents could be very useful to you.

2. Gross income

Your payslip will show your total brut – gross salary – at the top. But before you get too excited look down to the net a payer – net pay – amount at the bottom. This is the amount that will actually show up in your bank account and it's usually quite a bit less than the gross total.

The numbers in between those are the deductions taken off, and they're spelled out in quite a lot of detail. Whereas UK payslips tend to just lump it all together into 'tax and national insurance' the French ones detail how much you're paying towards healthcare, unemployment insurance etc.

First will be any extra payments above your salarie de bas – basic salary. These could include any bonuses, extra payments or extra money for the 13th month (although this is becoming less common).

3 Deductions

Next come the deductions and these are broken down into two sections the charge – which is social security deductions – and the impot sur le revenu which is income tax.

The idea of tax being deducted from your salary at source is relatively new in France, coming in in January 2019.

Before that workers still had the social charge deducted – the equivalent of National Insurance in the UK – but filed a personal tax return to pay income tax.

These deductions will usually be listed in columns that show the base rate (base) the rate (taux) and what is deducted (a déduire) and what will be paid (a payer).

The charge includes santé (health) retraite (your pension) securité sociale (social security), famille (family) and assurance chomage (unemployment insurance). Once you have been paying in to the assurance chomage scheme for six months you are entitled to claim benefits in France if you lose your job.

The list of deductions (cotisations et contributions) used to be much longer until the government simplified things in 2018.

On the right hand side there is the charges patronales or part employeur – and that's the payroll taxes or contributions that your employers makes to your pension, healthcare etc. 

Anyone thinking of starting their own business should note that these charges can be quite high, which makes employing people in France an expensive business.

READ ALSO How unemployment benefits in France work

4. Income tax

Your payslip then has your total before income tax – net a payer avant impot sur le revenu – and your total after tax – net a payer.

At present the pre-income tax total is in larger type than the actual amount of take-home pay, which seems rather counterintuitive. The reason for this is the relatively recent change of taxing people at source. The heavy type pre-tax total was added to payslips to avoid 'psychological distress' of workers when they opened their payslips under the new scheme and saw a smaller total.

Under the taxing at source arrangement people pay exactly the same amount of tax, it's just taken out of their payslips every month rather than being paid to them and then them paying a tax bill every year.

5. Extra perks

At the bottom is a box with some extra information which can be important.

First is the 'conv coll' or convention collective. This is useful to know because many of the perks that some French workers enjoy – such as meal vouchers, transport subsidies and extra days off – are bargained for under conventions collective, which are usually industry wide.

So if for example you are a journalist, you will be part of the convention collective journalistes and armed with that knowledge you can go and see what perks have been negotiated for you (not as many as those enjoyed by rail workers, sadly).

READ ALSO These are the days off work you are entitled to in France

Also at the bottom of the payslip is your congés – which the days of annual leave you are entitled to, and how many you have taken so far.

Important

Many employees assume that because they are getting their income taxed at source, they don't have to fill in a tax return, but that is not the case.

Tax returns are compulsory for everyone who is a resident in France – whether they are employed, self-employed, retired or not working.

If your only income is your salary and it's already been taxed at source your tax bill is likely to be very low – or even zero – but you still have to fill in a return.

French authorities say they are looking to scrap the annual declaration for some people in the future, but at the moment it is still compulsory.

And in certain circumstances you could actually end up getting money back – tax credits are available for people with children and on certain costs.

READ ALSO The perks and prizes for French parents with lot of kids

Worth mentioning too that you have to tell the French taxman about all your income – regardless of where it comes from.

So if for example you work in France and receive income from a property rental in the UK or US, you need to declare this.

Double taxation agreements mean that you wont be taxed twice on the same income, but you do still have to declare it. Likewise all foreign bank accounts – even if they are dormant – need to be declared.

READ ALSO What do I need to tell the French taxman about?

 

 

 

 

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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