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LIVING IN FRANCE

France is ‘more tolerant than ever’, study into racism finds

Many political headlines from France in recent months have been about the rise of the far-right, but the latest annual survey into attitudes towards race has found that ordinary French people are more tolerant than ever.

France is 'more tolerant than ever', study into racism finds
A demonstrator holds a placard reading "Racism = Death" during a "Suburbs Pride" event near Paris. (Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

An estimated 1.2 million people a year are victims of a racist attack in France, but there are less than 1,000 convictions annually for racially motivated crimes, a report has revealed.

“We can see that the institutions are failing to take account of real crime,” Magali Lafourcade, Secretary General of the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’Homme (CNCDH), which published the annual study, said.

Moreover, researchers found that only a small proportion of victims file complaints, for a variety of reasons, notably shame, fear of reprisals, or distrust in the police. 

It is a vicious circle that Lafourcade hopes to combat: “If there are many complaints, many criminal proceedings and many convictions, we can hope that the phenomenon will decrease.”

Despite those figures, France as a nation is more tolerant than ever, the study found.

Since 2008, the CNCDH has been calculating society’s tolerance towards minorities, using a “tolerance index”. In 2022, France scored 68 points on a scale of 100, its highest rating – indicating that racist behaviours and opinions are less tolerated.

“Tolerance has never been so high in our country,” Lafourcade said.

But, the report found that not all ethnic minority groups in France are treated equally. A total 38 percent of French people still consider Islam to be “a threat to France’s identity” – a figure down from 44.7 percent in 2019.

The Roma community is the least tolerated minority group in France, with 45 percent of French people (down from 48.2 percent in 2019) convinced many in the Roma community live off the proceeds of crime. 

The CNCDH has drawn up a list of 12 priority recommendations to reduce racial discrimination in France, advocating education as its main weapon in the ongoing fight against racism.

Measures include better training for school staff and education for digital citizenship, which is seen as “an essential element in the fight against online hate”.

The Commission also recommends human and financial investment by the government and a commitment to “change the way people look at and practice their lives in relation to Roma populations”, and increasing the use of online complaint mechanisms.

The CNCDH has published a report on racism and racial tolerance in France every year since 2008. Its in-depth 2022 study is available as a pdf here.

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PROPERTY

France brings in new tax declaration for property-owners

If you own property in France - either a main residence or a second home - you will now have to complete an extra tax declaration after changes to the tax system. Here's how it works.

France brings in new tax declaration for property-owners

People living in France already have to complete a yearly tax declaration, but if you own property here, you will also have to complete an extra declaration this year after changes to the tax system.

Who?

This applies to anyone who owns property in France – whether it is their main residence or a second home – including those who live in another country. If you do not own property and only rent your home, then this does not concern you.

What?

This isn’t an extra tax, it’s simply an extra piece of paperwork that has to be filled in, known as a Déclaration d’occupation, and this declaration is concerned with whether the property is your main residence or a second home.

Why?

This is because of recent changes to the property tax system. There are two types of property tax in France; taxe foncière which is paid by the property owner and taxe d’habitation which is paid by the property occupier. If you own your home home, traditionally you paid both.

However, taxe d’habitation is in the process of being scrapped for most people, and now only high-earners and second-home owners pay it. The problem is that the tax office don’t have a record of whether a property is used as a main home or a second home and therefore don’t know who to send bills to – hence the new declaration.

How?

If you live in France and already make your annual tax declaration online then this process should be fairly easy – head to impots.gouv.fr, log in and then click on Biens immobiliers (real estate) in the menu bar along the top of the website.

The site will then list the property or properties in your name, and you can fill out the déclaration d’occupation for each, stating whether it is your main residence or a second home.

If you’re not already registered on the impots.gouv site then you have two choices – register and set yourself up an account which will allow you to make the declaration online, or make the declaration on paper.

In order to register on the site you will need your numéro fiscale (tax number) which you should be able to find on previous correspondence from the tax office such as your annual tax bills.

You can find a full explanation of how to set up the online account HERE.

If you would prefer to make the declaration on paper, then the easiest option is to head to your local tax office and ask for a Déclaration d’occupation – you can find the tax office that serves your area by googling ‘Centre des finances publique‘ plus the name of your commune.

You do not need an appointment, as tax offices deal with queries on a walk-in basis, but make sure you check the opening times in advance as some offices, especially in small towns, have unusual opening hours. 

When?

The deadline to have completed the declaration is June 30th, and people who have a property registered should receive notification from the tax office. 

You will then receive your property tax bill in the autumn as usual. 

This is a one-off declaration so you won’t have to do it every year – only when your situation changes, so for example if you sell the property, buy a new one or change from it being a second-home to your main residence. 

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