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LIVING IN FRANCE

France plans to make language test compulsory for carte de séjour

France's interior minister has announced plans to make getting a carte de séjour residency permit conditional on French language skills.

France plans to make language test compulsory for carte de séjour
Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Tuesday: “At the request of the Prime Minister, we will double the funds for integration and we will condition the multi-year residence permit for a foreigner who spends several years in the country on mastering the French language.”

He did not give details on what level of French would be required for the card – The Local has asked the Interior Ministry for further clarification.

This is at present only a proposal and will need to be  debated in parliament before becoming law, but it will likely be supported by MPs from the centre-right Les Républicains and far-right Rassemblement National, since their candidates proposed similar measures during the presidential election campaign in April.

Darmanin added that the language requirement would be for the multi-year carte de séjour – typically new arrivals get either a one-year or a five-year card depending on their status, and then apply later for the multi-year or permanent card.

Currently there are no formal language requirements to get a residency permit, although naturally the application process for most card types is in French.

There is a language requirement for citizenship – candidates applying through residency need to have at least B1 level French and requirements have recently been toughened up to include a written French exam and to remove an exemption for over 60s.

READ ALSO How good does your French have to be to get citizenship?

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PROPERTY

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

The annual demands for property taxes have begun arriving at households across France - and many people will notice quite a difference to last year's bill.

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

Every year in September and October the French tax office sends out bills to households across France relating to property taxes – these are separate to income tax bills, which arrive over the summer.

The autumn bills are usually made up of three parts; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle.

However, system changes to all three parts mean that for some people bills will be be much lower than last year, while others will have nothing at all to pay.

Here’s what changes;

Redevance audiovisuelle – this was the TV licence and was charged at €138 per household, with some exceptions for pensioners or people who had no TV.

This year, it has been scrapped for everyone (including second-home owners) so most people’s bills are €138 less than last year.

Taxe d’habitation – this is the householder’s tax, paid by the inhabitant of the property – whether you rent it or own it. This is gradually being phased out, a process that started in 2019. It has been done based on income, with those on lower incomes having the charge scrapped first until it is gradually scrapped for everyone – with the exception of very high earners and second home owners.

So depending on your income level, you may have already had the tax phased out, or it may be phased out for you this year, or you may be paying a reduced rate this year.

These two changes are part of a tax giveaway from president Emmanuel Macron, and at the bottom of your tax bill you will find a note explaining how the charges have changed this year, and what you would have paid without the reductions.

It will look something like this;

Taxe foncière – this is the property owners’ tax and is paid on any property that you own – if you own the home you live in you may need to pay both taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière and if you are a second-home owner you will also pay both.

In contrast to the other two taxes, however, this one has been going up in many areas.

In fact, it’s connected to the taxe d’habitation cut – local authorities used to benefit from taxe d’habitation, so the phasing out has left many of them short of money. In some areas, they have reacted by raising taxe foncière.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

You can find more about how the tax is calculated, and how to challenge your bill if you think it is excessive, HERE.

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