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TAX

Reader question: Where can I find professional help with the French tax declaration?

There are lots of people advertising their services to help with the annual French tax declaration but you need to make sure that anyone you hire has the right qualifications - here is how to check.

Reader question: Where can I find professional help with the French tax declaration?
Photo: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Question: I need some help with the annual French tax declaration and I’ve seen all sorts of different self-proclaimed experts offering their services, but what should I be looking for when I instruct someone in this area?

Unlike in the UK where swathes of the population including salaried employees and pensioners are generally exempt from filing a tax return, in France almost everyone has to complete the annual tax declaration – even if they don’t owe any tax.

READ ALSO Who has to fill in a tax declaration in France?

And the combination of complicated tax jargon and French bureaucracy is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. So where can you get help?

Online

There are lots of English-language guides to French tax forms and the French tax website even has a section in English to help out foreigners.

You can head to The Local’s Tax Declaration section where we’ve put together series of guides and Q&As with experts including on the 2021 deadlines, who has to declare, what you need to tell the French taxman about and some handy vocab for the form.

The tax declarations have now moved online and once you have registered and filed for the first year, the process is relatively straightforward.

Professional help

But if you feel that your French is not up to the task, or your financial affairs are very complicated or you’d just rather hack off your own foot than spend an afternoon filling in French tax forms, you might prefer to pay someone to help you.

There are lots of people who advertise their services in this area, particularly in forums or online groups for foreigners, but be careful that you hire someone with the correct qualifications.

We asked chartered accountant Faten Amamou for her tips.

She said: “French tax returns can seem complicated, but if your financial affairs are straightforward, you can probably file your own. The calculations will be worked out for you, so you don’t need to do any complicated mathematics.”

But if you’re looking for professional help you have two main options – an expert comptable or a fiscaliste.

Faten said: “Tax authorities recommend that you fill your individual and household tax returns with an expert comptable.

“This assures them your tax return will be accurate, and they have a knowledgeable point of contact for any questions.

“You can also use a fiscaliste – or a tax-specialist lawyer (avocat). But note that for business tax returns (liasse fiscale) based on bookkeeping, only expert comptables can advise you, not tax lawyers.

“If your French is very good, you can call the tax helpline on 0809 401 401.

“Or if you have a fluent friend who can go with you, you can also make an appointment at your local tax office (centre des impôts) with an adviser who can explain how to fill in the form and answer any questions about it.

“But in both cases, they cannot give financial advice and can only answer questions about the form.

“There are some translators and other non-registered professionals who will offer to help you fill in your tax return, and I have seen people landed with some hefty tax bills, fines and even jail because of poor advice. If anyone offers to help you with your tax return, check that they are either a lawyer or an accountant registered HERE

“You can also use that form to find a qualified local accountant, or Google ‘Expert-comptables English-speaking’ to find bilingual accountants. But do double-check they are registered at the website above before using them.

“If someone is offering you accounting services and they aren’t registered on that site, then there’s also a link to report them to the authorities.”

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.

Member comments

    1. This response is only nine months late but I’m advised the strictly applicable exchange rate is when the actual transaction takes place. However the French tax office also issues an official global rate for the year around when the tax forms are issued or shortly before on-line returns are due.

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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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