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Homeowners in south west France to pay extra property taxes to fund new rail line

Households in the south west are facing an extra property tax in 2023, in order to fund the new high-speed rail line. Here are the details of the new tax and who will be affected by it.

Homeowners in south west France to pay extra property taxes to fund new rail line
Passengers wait on a platform as a TGV high-speed train arrives at Saint-Jean railway station in Bordeaux (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

As part of France’s 2023 finance law, a new tax was introduced to help pay for the Grand Projet du Sud-Ouest or GPSO (the great south-west rail project) and in particular, the Bordeaux-Toulouse high-speed line. 

The tax will be levied on people living in a commune that is one hour by car from a station that will be served by the high-speed line once it is put into service – this covers 2,340 communes in Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne and Pyrénées-Atlantique. 

You can see the localities in the region who will be subject to the new tax on the map below – or check your commune on the interactive map HERE.

Not all households will have to pay the tax, however. The following groups will be subjected to it:

  • Those who already pay taxe foncière on property in the designated area (ie property owners)
  • Those who already pay taxe foncière on a non-built property (meaning land) in the designated area
  • Those who already pay taxe d’habitation on a secondary residence (second home) in the designated area
  • Those who rent a furnished property that is not used as a primary residence in the designated area
  • Those who already pay the business property tax in the designated area (taxe foncière des entreprises)

In short, those who live full-time in the area in a rented property will not be concerned by the new tax, unless they also own businesses premises.

This new tax, known as the “special equipment tax” (SET), will come into force in 2023, and it is expected to bring a maximum of €29.5 million per year.

However, the exact amount of the new tax is not yet known. According to the regional newspaper La Depeche, the tax is estimated to represent an additional €4 and €8 per household or business each year. Yet, according to Ouest France, the amount will be an increase in pre-existing property taxes by 0.4 percent.

The construction on the Southwest LGV high-speed line will begin in 2024, with the goal of the Bordeaux-Toulouse line entering service by 2032.

The Great Southwestern Railway Project

The total cost for the “Great Southwestern Railway project” is estimated at €14.3 billion. Approximately 40 percent of the funding will be offered by the French government, while the European Union will contribute 20 percent (provided that the project connects with Spain). 

Local authorities in the southwest area will be responsible for the remaining 40 percent worth of funding.

The GPSO, in addition to creating a high speed line between Bordeaux and Toulouse, will also improve services from Bordeaux to Dax, as well as services along the west coast from Dax to Spain. It will also complete rail improvements to Bordeaux regional lines (to the south of the city), as well as work to begin implementing a metropolitan RER service in the north of Toulouse.

Once it is finished, it will cut the journey time from Toulouse to Paris to three hours. 

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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