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French Expression of the Day: Le Fisc

You probably don't want to get on the bad side of the Fisc.

French Expression of the Day: Le Fisc
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know le Fisc?

Because you might have heard it mentioned in slightly ominous tones.

What does it mean?

Le Fisc – pronounced luh fisk – is a term used to reference the French institution in charge of levying taxes. It’s a shorter, more casual version of the phrase l’administration fiscale (the fiscal administration).  Often, it refers specifically to the“Direction générale des Finances publiques which is the French public finances administration.

Though it may look like a shortened version of the feminine noun ‘fiscalité’ (which refers to the set of laws related to the tax collection system in France), le Fisc is a masculine noun with a different definition that refers specifically to the government body doing the tax collecting.

The closest English synonyms to this expression might be ‘the taxman’ or ‘tax authorities.’  

The term le Fisc comes from the Latin word “Fiscus” which means “basket” and by extension went on to be used interchangeably for ‘treasure’ as well. 

In ancient Rome, the name for the public treasury was ‘fiscus,’ which is the root of the French terms le Fisc and fiscalité.  

Often, you’ll see this word used in newspapers or by politicians when referencing matters related to the national budget and taxation.

Use it like this

Le Fisc va récupérer €10 millions de plus cette année dans les piscines non déclarées. – The taxman will recover more than €10 million in taxes this year due to undeclared swimming pools. 

Le Fisc a pris connaissance du fait que l’acteur omettait de déclarer une partie importante de ses revenus en France. Il sera probablement condamné à une amende. – The tax authorities have become aware of how the actor was failing to declare significant portions of his income in France. He will likely be fined.

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For members


French Word of the Day: Doper

This French word does not have anything to do with one of Snow White’s seven dwarves, even if it might look like it.

French Word of the Day: Doper

Why do I need to know doper?

Because you may not have realised you can use this word in several different contexts.

What does it mean?

Doper roughly pronounced doe-pay – shares the same meaning as the English word “to dope” – in the sense that it means taking or giving a stimulant before a sporting event or competition. 

It doesn’t carry the English sense of ‘to sedate’, however, nor is it used as a nickname for marijuana. 

In French this word is not only used when describing an athlete who has resorted to unfair methods to win. In fact, you will see this word in many other contexts as well because doper also means to stimulate or boost something in a generic sense. 

If you open a business newspaper in France, you might see an article using doper in the headline – perhaps one that discusses how the government plans to stimulate a dying sector of the economy.

If you want a synonym for doper, you can still use the verb stimuler (to stimulate) or dynamiser (to rejuvenate).

And Snow White? In France she is Blanche Comme Neige and the dwarfs are Prof (Doc), Timide (Bashful) Atchoum (Sneezy), Joyeux (Happy), Dormeur (Sleepy), Grincheux (Grumpy) and Simplet (Dopey).

Use it like this

La France dispose d’un plan national pour doper une énergie renouvelable prometteuse : la géothermie. – France has a national plan to boost a promising renewable energy: geothermal.

Les récentes réductions d’impôts et certaines autres mesures prévues sont destinées à doper l’emploi. – The recent tax cuts and other measures planned are intended to boost employment.