For members


Reader question: Can second-home owners in France claim tax rebates for 2020?

Covid travel restrictions has made it impossible for many to visit property in France, meaning some second homes have stood empty for most or all of 2020. So what does that mean for the property taxes?

Reader question: Can second-home owners in France claim tax rebates for 2020?
A view of the Mediterranean village of Gruissan, near Narbonne, southern France. AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS
Question: I was unable to visit my second home in France all last year due to Covid travel restrictions. Can I claim a rebate on the 2020 housing taxes?
Many second home owners have been prevented from visiting their house in France since the pandemic began last spring, due to the strict rules regulating international travel which remain in place for many countries.

IN DETAIL The rules for travelling into France from within the EU

Even so, the property tax rules remains unchanged for second homeowners, which means those in possession of an empty house in France will have to to pay their housing taxes as usual.
France has two types of property taxes: taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière. The taxe d’habitation is the tax paid by the person(s) residing in the house, while the taxe foncière is paid by the owner.
While the taxe d’habitation has disappeared for most people, second homeowners still have to pay it – even if their house has stood empty throughout the pandemic.
There are only a few ways second homeowners can escape the taxe d’habitation, as outlined on the government’s website:
  • If your job obliges you to stay in your second home due to its proximity to the workplace;
  • If you had to move into a a long term care home and your former main residence became your secondary one;
  • If your second home is inhabitable due to circumstances beyond your control (such as renovation needed to make the place habitable).

EXPLAINED: Who has to make a tax declaration in France in 2021?

If, however, you simply have been shut out of France due to travel restrictions imposed to halt the spread of Covid-19, you will still have to pay the tax.

The taxe foncière also remains in place as normal. However, remember that over-75s can get refunds on this tax in some cases. For details on that, see the government’s website (HERE).


Member comments

  1. I can accept the two property taxes ,but , it’s a bit annoying to pay the separate bin charge when not using the service !

  2. Perhaps you can write a letter asking for a reduction. On the other hand, small villages do not have many sources of income.
    We were helped by the ladies of the Tresorerie Publique when we paid our housing taxes.
    Due to all the travel restrictions we had stayed in France instead of going back to the Netherlands. In January when we did go back for a short visit, we found letters from the French tax people. Because we had not paid on time, repeatedly (we hadn’t seen the letters!) we had to pay fines. Paying at the Tresorerie, my husband explained that due to Covid restrictions we had been unable to pay. The lady consulted her colleagues, told my husband to wait as she phoned the tax people; they agreed to scrap the fines and told her how to write a short letter by hand for my husband, which he signed and she would send to the tax people. A month later we received a confirmation that the fines had been waived.
    I cannot imagine such service taking place in my home country.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

From how to quit your job in France to choosing the best French school for your kids and learning all the vocabulary of France's cost of living crisis - here are six essential articles for life in France.

French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

In the last two years, many people across the world have either considered leaving or have left their jobs amid the “Great Resignation” (or La Grande démission, en Français). 

If you have thought about quitting your French job, or perhaps you simply want to understand the procedure for resigning in France, we’ve put together a guide that should answer all of your questions. 

EXPLAINED: What you should know if you want to quit your job in France

Next, the French government is recommending that everyone become familiar with this website, and you’ll really to know how to use it if you will be living in France during the winter of 2022-2023. 

Ecowatt is the government’s ‘energy forecasting’ website. It will provide you with daily updates and give you an idea as to whether the electrical grid is under stress due to energy shortages. The Local put together an article on how to sign up for alerts, which will help you keep track of whether your area is at risk for short, localised power cuts this winter.

‘Ecowatt’: How you should use France’s new energy forecasting website?

Amid potential energy shortages this winter and the cost of living crisis, foreigners living with France have been faced with learning a whole new set of French vocabulary words.

It can be difficult to keep up to date with the French news – even for native-French speakers. To help you follow along and stay informed, The Local has compiled a list of French terms you are likely to hear when the government or media discusses inflation, along with their English translations.

The French words you need to understand France’s cost of living crisis

Parenting in a country you did grow up in comes with unique challenges and joys. One thing anglophone parents tend to wonder about is whether or not they should send their children to international schools (where English might be more widely spoken) or opt for local French schools.

The Local spoke with some anglophone parents, and compared the advantages and disadvantages of the various options in order to help you make the best decision for your family. 

What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Many foreigners living in France prefer renting to buying. When looking for that perfect home or apartment, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost – renting in France depends largely on where you live. Renting in a rural or suburban environment will differ greatly from renting in a big city. Nevertheless – renters across France are faced with the same question: furnished or unfurnished? 

The two options differ in terms of price, convenience, and sometimes availability. You can read The Local’s guide to renting property in France.

Renting property in France: Should I go for furnished or unfurnished?

The 2024 Olympic Games are already on the horizon, even though they might seem far away. The city of Paris and its surrounding suburbs have already begun extensive preparations to host athletes, their families, and the thousands of fans who will come to enjoy the Games.

If you live in France and you are considering attending the games, The Local has put together what you need to know in order to secure your tickets.

How to get tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics