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PROPERTY

The French tax deadlines to remember this autumn

Autumn is here, and in France that means it's time to start thinking about taxes. There are three types of tax due on the horizon, and most people who live in France or own property here will owe at least one of them. These are the dates you need to remember.

The French tax deadlines to remember this autumn
Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP.

Property tax

All property owners in France must pay the taxe foncière (property tax), even if the property is being rented out to tenants. Depending on your situation, your bill should either be available since August 30th or from September 20th. You should receive this either in the post, or online with an email informing you once it’s available.

The deadline is October 15th if you chose to pay by mail, or October 20th for those who prefer to pay online.

If you have previously set up to pay in installments then you shouldn’t need to do anything, but just check that all your info is still up to date.

Residence tax

The French government has been gradually scrapping the taxe d’habitation, and 80 percent of French households no longer need to pay it on their primary residence. However, until 2023, higher earners will still continue paying this additional tax. You can find out whether you qualify for an exemption here.

The residence tax will also continue to apply to second homes, even beyond 2023.

READ ALSO The French tax calendar for 2021 – which taxes are due when?

If you are not exempt, you need to pay by November 15th, or if you have chosen to pay online or in monthly installments you have until November 20th. If you want to pay in monthly installments, you have until October 31st to register.

TV licence fee

If you have a home in France with a TV, regardless of whether you own the property or are simply renting, you are likely to have to pay the redevance télé. Officially it’s called the contribution à l’audiovisuel public, because it funds several different types of public audiovisual organisation: France Télévisions, Arte-France, Radio France, RFO, RFI, and INA.

In some cases you may be exempt from paying the TV licence fee – including if you are over 60, living alone, and your income does not exceed a certain ceiling – you can see the conditions here.

If you do not have a TV, and instead watch on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you do not need to pay. However if you’re watching on TV you will have to pay, even if you don’t watch any French channels.

Second-home owners also pay the TV licence fee.

In metropolitan France it costs €138, and is usually sent out with the residence tax, even if you no longer have to pay the taxe d’habitation you are still likely to have to pay the licence fee.

The deadlines are the same, meaning it is due on November 15th, or November 20th if you pay online or in installments. If you do not receive a bill in October, you may fall under a second wave of payments set for mid-December, but it’s worth checking your account on the impots.gouv website to make sure your bill has not gone astray.

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PROPERTY

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 - particularly if you don't mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

We decided to look at where in France you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000, and it turns out there are some bargains to be had.

There are a lot of caveats while searching for property, and many local variables in place, but our search does show some of the areas to concentrate on if you have a limited budget.

We used the Notaires de France immobilier website in August 2022, and we specified that the property should have at least five rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and a floor space of at least 100 square metres.

We also discounted any property that was for sale under the viager system – a complicated purchase method which allows the resident to release equity on their property gradually, as the buyer puts down a lump sum in advance and then pays what is effectively a rent for the rest of the seller’s lifetime, while allowing them to remain in the property.

READ ALSO Viager: The French property system that can lead to a bargain

For a five-room, 100 square metre property at under €100,000, you won’t find anywhere in the Île-de-France region, where the proximity of Paris pushes up property prices. The city itself is famously expensive, but much of the greater Paris region is within commuting distance, which means pricier property. 

Equally the island of Corsica – where prices are pushed up by its popularity as a tourist destination – showed no properties for sale while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which includes the French Riviera – showed only 1 property under €100,000.

The very presence of Bordeaux, meanwhile, takes the entire département of Gironde out of this equation – but that doesn’t mean that the southwest is completely out of the running. A total of 25 properties came up in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One property was on the market for a mere €20,000 – but it was, as the Notaires’ brochure noted, in need of “complete renovation”.

Neighbouring Occitanie, meanwhile, showed 12 further properties in the bracket.

By far the most properties on the day of our search – 67 – were to be found in the Grand Est region of eastern France. The eastern part of France overall comes out best for property bargains, with the north-east region of Hauts-de-France showing 38 properties and and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté displaying 25.

Further south, however, the presence of the Alps – another popular tourist destination – pushed up prices in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which showed just three results.

The below map shows our search results, with darker colours indicating more cheap properties.

Property buying tips 

In order to make a comparison, we focused our search on properties advertised online, but if you have a specific area in mind it's well worth making friends with a few local real estate agents and perhaps also the mayor, since it's common for properties not to be advertised online.

Most of the truly 'bargain' properties are described as being "in need of renovation" - which is real estate speak for a complete wreck.

If you don't mind doing a bit of work you can often pick up property for low prices, but you need to do a clear-eyed assessment of exactly how much work you are willing and able to do, and what the cost is likely to be - there's no point getting a "cheap" house and then spending three times the purchase price on renovations.

READ ALSO 'Double your budget and make friends with the mayor' - tips for French property renovation

That said, there were plenty of properties at or near the €100,000 mark that were perfectly liveable or needed only relatively minor renovations.

You also need to pay attention to the location, as the sub-€100,000 properties are often in remote areas or very small villages with limited access to amenities. While this lifestyle suits many people, bear in mind that owning a car is a requirement and you may end up paying extra for certain services.

Finally remember that government help, in the form of loans and grants, is available for environmentally friendly improvements, such as insulation or glazing.

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