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LIVING IN FRANCE

How to file your 2021 French tax declaration

The French tax system can be daunting if you are not used to it, so as deadlines approach for 2021, here's what you need to know.

How to file your 2021 French tax declaration
It's tax time! Photo: AFP

Do I have to do it?

Probably, yes. France’s tax system has everyone declare their taxes in the spring for the previous year. That means that your 2021 tax declaration is based on your 2020 income – the French tax year runs from January 1st to December 31st.

Previously everyone resident in France had to fill in the tax declaration (déclaration des revenus) but that began to change last year, following the introduction of ‘taxing at source’ for employees.

This only affects employees, not self-employed or retired people, and only a few categories are concerned – if this affects you, you should have received a notification per email already, or been exempt from last year’s declaration.

If you belong to this group but something has changed since your last fiscal declaration (anything at all – income levels, address or other) you will still need to declare your taxes.

Everyone else needs to fill in a declaration, even if you don’t earn any income in France (for example people who get a pension paid from another country).

READ ALSO: What the French government doesn’t tell you about filing taxes

When is the deadline?

Last year declarations were extended because of the lockdown, but this year has reverted to the normal timeframe, with declarations opening online on Thursday, April 8th.

The deadline to have the return completed, however, depends on where you live:

  • People living in département numbers 1 to 19 and people who are not full-time residents in France have until 11.59pm on Wednesday, May 26th to make their declaration
  • People living in départements 20 to 54 have until 11.59pm on Tuesday, June 1st
  • People living in départements 55 to 95 and all overseas French territories have until 11.59pm on Tuesday, June 8th

Can I only do it online?

The government has vowed to render tax declarations paperless and this year even first-timers are told to file their declarations online.

Exemptions for online filing include groups like elderly and people without internet access – for example those living in so-called ‘white zones’ – who may make their declarations on paper and send them in by post.

You can get your tax form at your local tax office, or download it and print it from the tax site.

If you are having trouble you may call 0809 401 401 for help.

First time declaring? 

If this is your first year filing a tax declaration in France, you will first need to get a tax number (numéro fiscal), you can get one through the official website of impots.gouv.fr.

Once you have received the number, you then need to register with the tax website.

If you are already registered online for property taxes such as the taxe d’habitation, you use the same site.

Visit the site impots.gouv.fr and go to the section that says “votre espace particulier“.

This is where your 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).

If you are not registered, you first need to set up your online account – head to impots.gouv.fr and click on votre espace particulier, if you have not created an account previously you will be given the option to set one up by entering details such as your name, address and social security number.

Once registered, head to the blue button ‘Accéder à la déclaration en ligne‘ to begin filling in the online form.

READ ALSO Ask the expert – what to put in each section of the French tax declaration

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 another country 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 your bank can and will tell the French taxman what accounts you have in your home country, 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 another country – 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.

What if I forget something?

If you realise too late that you have made a mistake on your tax declaration, you have until mid December 2021 to correct it on the government’s website, impots.gouv.fr.

Taxed as a household 

In France you are taxed by household. 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.
 
If you were working from home for the majority of 2020, as many people were due to the pandemic, the government has stated that any extra allowances given to you by your employer to cover extra costs of home-working will not usually be subject the income tax, the government has stated
 
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.  

Member comments

  1. What if I move to france in the middle of the tax year? Do I have to declare income before I arrive?

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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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