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Second-home owners: What French taxes do you need to pay?

Owning property in France will cost you money in taxes.
Owning property in France will cost you money in taxes. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
Those who own property in France are more than just casual visitors, so what does this mean in terms of your tax bill and what you are entitled to while in France?

Firstly, let’s look at the taxes you must pay and those you are exempt from.

Notaire fee

When you first buy your house you will need to pay, in addition to the stated purchase price, the notaire fee. Despite its name, the notaire handling your sale only keeps a small part of this, the rest goes to the government, so it is really a type of property tax similar to stamp duty in the UK.

READ ALSO How to calculate notaire fees when purchasing French property

This is a one-off tax that you only pay when purchasing property.

However there are also some annual charges.

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Taxe foncière

This is the property owners’ tax and is paid every year. The amount is set by the local authority so varies a lot depending on where you live, but allow between €500 and €1,000 a year for an average-sized property.

The formula used to calculate the tax is a complicated one, but the value of the property is taken into account so doing major renovation work, adding an extension or building a swimming pool are all likely to lead to an increase in taxe foncière.

READ ALSO Why French property taxes are skyrocketing

Taxe d’habitation

This is the annual householders tax, so if you own your own home you pay both. Taxe d’habitiation is in the process of being phased out in France and 80 percent of the population no longer pays it, but second-homes do not qualify for an exemption. In fact in areas where there are housing shortages, local authorities are increasing taxe d’habitation on second homes – find a full list of affected areas here.

Exemptions – If you buy a property as a renovation project and it is totally uninhabitable (ie holes in the roof, not connected to water or electricity) you may be entitled to a temporary exemption on both taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation depending on the area. The best way of finding out is to head to your local Centre des Finances Publiques (tax office) and ask what the situation is for une maison inhabitable.

TV licence

If your property has a TV you will need to pay the contribution à l’audiovisuel public or TV licence fee – even if you never watch French telly. There are some exemptions to this for older people or those on low incomes.

Waste charge

If you live in a small village or rural area you may also be charged a waste collection fee by the commune, to cover the cost of running local waste and recycling services.

Development tax

If you’re planning a project such as a big extension or the addition of a swimming pool, you will also need to pay the one-off taxe d’aménagement. This is calculated based on the size of the pool or the additional feature.

Income tax declaration

All full-time residents of France need to fill out the annual tax declaration (even if they’re not liable for any taxes in France) but this won’t apply to most second-home owners.

EXPLAINED: Who has to make a tax declaration in France

There are some exceptions however, including if you rent out your second home and therefore have income in France or if you use your French property as a base for remote working while you’re here, especially if your work is connected to France or a French company.

Now that you’re registered in the French tax system and are paying money to the French state – what does this entitle you to?

Your payments entitle you to use local services such as recycling and to watch French TV if you want to, but your status as a taxpayer doesn’t give you many extra rights, contrary to popular belief.

Residency – owning a property in France doesn’t give you any extra rights when it comes to length of stay or applying for residency, you still have to follow the same rules as other visitors.

If France closes its borders again is it did during the pandemic there are usually exemptions to travel bans for French citizens and permanent residents of France, but not for second-home owners.

READ ALSO Can second-home owners in France get a carte de séjour?

Length of stay – if you’re a citizen of an EU country there is no limit to how long you can stay at your place in France, but non-EU citizens (including Brits) need to abide by the 90-day rule. 

You can find a fuller explanation of the rule here, but the basic premise is that you must either limit your stays to 90 days in every 180, or apply for a visa if you wish to stay longer. As annoying as this may be for second-home owners used to long visits, simply owning property does not exempt you from the 90-day rule.

READ ALSO How can British second-home owners spend more than 90 days in France?

Healthcare – the same applies to healthcare, paying property taxes does not give you any extra rights to use the French health system.

If you are an EU citizen you can use the European health insurance card to cover you while in France, while UK nationals can use the GHIC card. However neither of these cover all healthcare and are very unlikely to cover the cost of repatriation so visitors are also advised to have health or travel insurance. Non-EU or UK citizens need to have private health or travel insurance to cover any healthcare they need in France.

It is illegal for French hospitals to turn you away in an emergency, but if you do not have health cover you could end up with a hefty bill if you fall sick or are in an accident. Likewise pharmacies and GPs are happy to treat people who are not registered in the French health system, but will charge you for appointments or prescriptions. 

READ ALSO Health insurance in France: What are the requirements for visitors?

Visas – many people believe that owning French property will make it easier to get a visa, but this is not actually the case. Depending on the type of visa you may be asked for proof of having accommodation arranged in France, but a rental contract is accepted for this and there’s no particular advantage to owning property.

Obviously, you do have the massive advantage of having a place to call your own in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, though, so that in itself is a good reason to invest in a French property.


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