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

The Local France
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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

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?


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).



Comments (2)

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Anonymous 2021/03/11 21:26
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.
Anonymous 2021/03/11 18:33
I can accept the two property taxes ,but , it’s a bit annoying to pay the separate bin charge when not using the service !

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