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Explained: How to fill out the French tax declaration

The Local France
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Explained: How to fill out the French tax declaration
Photo: Etienne Laurent/AFP

Almost everyone who lives here, as well as some who live outside France, have to fill in the annual French tax declaration. The process itself can be complicated if you're not used to it, so Jill Starley-Grainger asked chartered accountant Faten Amamou for her tips.


If you're unsure whether you have to complete a declaration or not, then you probably do.

If you live in France you almost certainly will, even if all your income comes from another country (for example pensioners) or if you're an employee and your income is already taxed at source. If you live outside France but earn income here, including from renting out property, then you may also need to make a declaration.

Find the full details here: Who needs to make an annual tax declaration in France?


So assuming you have to make the declaration, here's how to go about it.

Once you have filed online once, the form remembers your details making the following years a lot more straightforward, but making the first declaration can be complicated.

READ ALSO Where can I find professional help with the French tax declaration


Getting started

The first step is requesting a numéro fiscale (tax number) and then creating your online account - full details on how to do that HERE.

Faten says: "Once you have your 13-digit tax number, you can file your return online. If you can’t file online, there are still some exceptions to allow people who are unable to file online to use the paper method, so speak to your local tax office or call 0809 401 401 (in French only) for assistance.”

Once your account is set up, click on the blue button Accéder à la déclaration en ligne to get to the form.


Faten says: “Before you start to fill out your return, if you have any income that isn’t in euros, you’ll need to convert it to euros. There is no set method for doing this, but keep a note of the method, logic and currency conversion you have used in case you are questioned about it.

Explained: How to convert foreign income into euros for French taxes

“In France, you file in spring for the previous calendar year (January to December). That means that if you were tax resident in France at all in 2023 - even for just a day - you must file a French tax return in spring 2024."

"Under French law, most households file a single tax return. This applies to couples who are married or in legally recognised civil partnerships, plus any dependent family members, including children or parents who live with you free of charge. However, couples who live together but are not married or in civil partnership file separately.”

Most people give their bank details to the tax office so that the money can be taken automatically (or refunded if you have tax credits, which is quite common. People whose income is taxed at source often end up getting money back at tax time) but this can only be done if you have a French bank account.


Faten says: “If you don’t have a bank account in France, it will make life simpler if you open one, but it is possible to pay at your local tax office in cash or cheque if it is below €300.”

First section

The first section of the form asks for your personal details - name, address and domestic situation including whether you are married or in a civil partnership and whether you have children.

READ ALSO What's in a name - understanding how to fill out forms in France

The form has options for two déclarants, as married couples file together, and personnes à charge (dependants) but if you are filing as a single person with no dependants just ignore the extra boxes and fill in 'déclarant 1'.

Earnings - French and foreign

The next section concerns earnings and here you must tell the taxman about everything you have earned in the last year.


For employees in France this can be confusing because your salary has likely already been taxed at source, but you still need to declare it on the form (the reason for this duplication is that France is in the process of changing its tax system). Likewise any income earned in another country must be declared, even if you have already paid tax on it in the country where you earned it.

Faten said: "Then you’ll be asked your salary, which you must declare here, regardless of whether you’re employed by a French or foreign company. For foreign salaries, you must list it here and also again later, in the foreign revenue section (form 2047).

“Note that even if you pay your taxes on your salary in another country, such as if you are a cross-border worker on the PAYE system in the UK, you must still include this income on your French tax return. If it is covered by a double-tax treaty, you will not pay taxes on it in France, but it still must be declared.”

Other French income

The next section covers other types of income and includes any money you make from renting out property in France.


Faten says: "Next, you’ll be asked about other assets, revenue and credits in France. If you earn dividends on a French business or investments, rental income from a French property, if you are an auto-entrepreneur or micro-entrepreneur, you declare it here. In this area, you’ll then note any relevant tax credits, such as if you’ve invested in certain types of real estate, forests or pension funds.”

Other foreign income

Faten says: “The next section deals with much the same the last one, but is for all income from outside France.

"Again, as with foreign salary, all of your foreign income must be declared [including income from renting out a property in another country] regardless of whether you’ve already paid taxes on it elsewhere or if it’s covered by a double tax treaty.

“All foreign income needs to be reported in a special form called 2047. This needs to be filled in accordance with the treaty of non-double taxation. Each type of revenue has its own calculation of credit tax to delete the double taxation. In this specific matter relating to the double-tax treaty, it is highly advised to work with a real professional: an expert-comptable or tax lawyer (fiscaliste).

“Also be aware that in France, in addition to tax, we have social contributions called CSG, CRDS that must be paid on income and revenue. Some double-tax treaties cover this and some don’t, so it will depend on your home country’s double-tax treaty as to whether you need to pay all or some of this.”

Social charges are levied at 7.5 percent for income from another EU country and 17.2 percent for non-EU income - so Brits in France who also have income in the UK may have noticed a jump in social charges since Brexit


Foreign bank accounts, investment schemes and cryptocurrency

This one frequently catches out foreigners, but you need to tell the French taxman about all bank accounts you hold outside France.

Faten said: “You’ll need to declare all your foreign bank accounts and investment schemes, such as foreign life insurance policies. You don’t declare the amount in each account, but you must tell them of the existence of each one, including the account number and when you opened the account - even if the account is dormant or no longer used.

"PayPal accounts must be declared unless the purpose of the PayPal account is to make online payments for purchases or receipts for sales of goods; the PayPal account is backed by another account opened in France or the sum of the receipts carried out by its holder does not exceed €10,000 per year.

"And if you have a cryptocurrency account, this must be declared, but there’s a special section just for this.

“The fines for failure to declare a single bank account or investment scheme are hefty - from €1,500 to €10,000, with €3,000 being a fairly common penalty. And those amounts are applied to each account you fail to declare."

Explained: Declaring foreign bank accounts on a French tax declaration


Finally you get to deduct some costs, while certain professions, including journalists, have historic agreements that allow them to deduct a certain portion of their salary from their taxable income.

Faten said: “You can deduct the cost of some personal services, but only if the provider is registered and provides you with official invoices. These might include the cost of childcare - such as crèches and nannies - as well as cleaners, gardeners and similar personal services. 

“Donations to certain associations, such as charities, are eligible for an income tax reduction of 66 percent to 75 percent of the amount paid, depending on the association chosen, up to a limit of 20 percent of taxable income. The association must be recognised as being of public utility or of general non-profit interest, and will be listed as ‘association d’utilité publique’.”

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UK nationals

Faten said: "A lot of people are concerned that Brexit has affected the double-tax treaty between the UK and France, but it has not. The treaty was negotiated completely separately from Brexit, so is unrelated."

In short, nothing has changed for Brits living in France when it comes to tax declarations - although as mentioned above, you may see an increase in social charges on UK income.


Faten said: “One area that catches a lot of people out is the non-salary foreign income section. It’s very easy to put the wrong numbers in a box here, which could see you paying much higher taxes than you should. If you make a mistake and you realise it in time, you can correct it online until November, but after that, it would be very difficult to resolve. If you have foreign-earned income for anything other than a straightforward salary, I would suggest using a French chartered accountant to help you file.

“If you think you made an error, you can amend your tax returns up to three years in the past. But this needs to be done with the tax agent. You must explain the situation to them and send all forms amended. You can also request that you not be fined because you came to them spontaneously to fix the situation.

“After filing your return, you need to keep it and the relevant documents, such as annual income statements, P60s in the UK or W-2s in the US, for 10 years.” 

Faten Amamou is a Chartered Accountant in France at ESCEC International and member of the Institute of chartered accountants in France (ordre des experts-comptables). Fluent in English, French and Arabic she provides accounting services to both individuals and businesses, and specialises in helping foreign entrepreneurs set up their business and careers in France. Find out more here.


Comments (3)

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Anonymous 2022/06/08 21:36
Very useful article. Thank you for posting
Anonymous 2022/04/07 18:52
Not true that first time declarations can now be done online - just got this message: Attention Selon nos informations, vous déclarez pour la première fois. Pour cette raison, vous ne pouvez pas déclarer en ligne cette année. Vous devez déposer une déclaration de revenus au format papier auprès de votre Centre des Finances Publiques. Vous pourrez déclarer vos revenus en ligne à compter de l’année prochaine. La direction générale des finances publiques
Anonymous 2021/04/13 19:44
Does anyone yet know the exchange rate the administration fiscale wants used to convert sterling into Euro for declaration purposes, 2021?

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