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EXPLAINED: How to complete the French property tax declaration

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to complete the French property tax declaration
Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

People who own property in France now have an extra bit of paperwork to complete - the Déclaration d'occupation. Here's who needs to do it and how to fill in the form.

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If you own property in France - whether you live here or keep it as a second home - you will need to complete a property tax declaration, a new requirement that was brought in in 2023. 

The new declaration has to do with changes to how French properties are taxed - full details here.

Who?

This applies to everyone who owns residential property in France, including those who live outside France (eg second home owners) - it applies whether the property is your main home, a holiday home or is rented out. 

When?

Unlike the annual income tax declaration, the déclaration d'occupation is a one-off form.

If you filled one out last year you do not need to do so again, unless your circumstances have changed - ie you have sold your property and/or you have bought a property.

But if you didn't fill one out last year for whatever reason, you will need to do so this year.

The declaration counts property owned on January 1st of the tax year, so for this year that means any and all properties in France that you owned on January 1st, 2024. If you have since sold your property but you still owned it on January 1st, you still have to complete the declaration (unless your sale contract specified that tax responsibilities pass immediately to the new owner).

The 2024 deadline is June 30th at 11.59pm. It can take some time to register for a tax number, so it's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time.

So how do you complete the form itself?

READ ALSO 5 top tips for dealing with the French tax office

Already have an online tax account

If you already have an account with the French tax website impots.gouv.fr (the same site that you do your annual income tax declaration on) then this should be fairly straightforward for you. If you don't have an account, you can find details below on how to sign up. 

Go to the site and log in to your account, then from the menu bar across the top of the site select Bien immobiliers (property). 

Here you should find listed any property or properties that you own in France, with an option next to each to make the Déclaration d'occupation. You then check that the information the tax office has about the property is correct, fill in any blank spaces - such as whether the property is your main home, a second home or rented out (on a long-term rental) and then click to submit the declaration.

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If all the information is correct, this should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes. Once you have pressed submit then you need to do nothing more - you will simply get your property tax bill in the autumn as normal.

If you've recently purchased property then it may take several weeks for your tax account to be updated, since the notaire first has to register the sale.

READ ALSO How to find English-speaking lawyers and accountants in France

Troubleshooting

Here are answers to some of the common questions we have been asked by readers;

Couples - if you own property jointly with a partner or spouse then you only need to do a single declaration for the property. In France married or pacsé couples file their income tax declarations together, so the system is set up for a joint declaration

Property details - the declaration should be pre-filled with the details that the tax office has for your property - some of these it is possible to change if they are incorrect, such as the details of the property owner or occupier.

If you find the description of the property itself (eg size, number of rooms) is different to reality this won't stop you from filing the declaration. However if there is a big difference (for example the tax office thinks you have 15 bedrooms but you actually only have 2) it would be worth a trip to the local tax office with your property deeds, as property tax bills are partially calculated based on the rentable value of the property.

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Separate pool/outbuildings - extra buildings are often listed separately on the tax site, so if you have a house that has an outbuilding (eg an old barn) and a swimming pool you may find three entries under your name in the Bien immobiliers section. This is normal - and pools are always listed separately as you have to pay extra tax on them - but you only need to make one declaration.

New purchase - if you purchased your property after January 1st 2024, you don't need to fill in the declaration this year, as property tax bills are based on ownership/occupancy on January 1st. You will, however, need to complete it by the summer of next year - ready for your first property tax bill in the autumn of 2025. 

Uninhabitable - if your property is a renovation project it is possible to declare it inhabitable (uninhabitable) for up to two years while you do the work. In this case it would usually be lacking basic amenities like electricity, water or sanitation. While it is declared uninhabitable you pay a reduced rate of property tax (or no tax, depending on your local area rules). If the property was officially uninhabitable on January 1st you may not need to complete the declaration this year, depending on the rules in your area - it's best to check with your local tax office.

Occupancy dates - if your property is rented out on a long-term lease, you may be asked who was the occupant on January 1st. This is because any taxe d'habitation is paid by the occupant - so if you have a tenant, they would pay it. If there is no tenant, then the owner also counts as the occupier, even if they happened not to be physically present there on January 1st.

If the property is a second-home that is not rented out, then you are an 'owner-occupier', even if you do not occupy it full time.

SCI ownership - if you own your property through an SCI (a type of trust) it's likely that the property won't appear in your personal tax site. Find full details for SCI owners HERE

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Don't already have an online tax account

If you don't already have an account at impots.gouv.fr you will need to create one in order to complete the declaration.

This is a common scenario for second-home owners, who often don't make an income tax declaration in France - you can find full details of how to set up the account HERE.

Once the account is set up, you complete the declaration in the way described above.

Troubleshooting

Here are answers to some of the common questions we have been asked by readers;

Numéro fiscale not recognised - most second-home owners will already have a tax number (numéro fiscale) which can be found on the property tax bills they are sent each year. 

Some readers have told us that they have successfully used this number to set up their online account, others say that when they tried they were asked to 'verify their identity'. 

If this happens to you, you have the option of requesting a new tax number using the process outlined above, or providing extra ID.

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The easiest way to do this is to visit your local tax office - you can go without an appointment, although do check opening hours before going as some offices, especially in small towns, have unusual hours. Some of the smaller tax offices are not able to help with property tax queries - but they can direct you to the office that will help.

Find more details HERE on visiting the tax office.

If you're not able to get to a tax office, you can call the tax helpline on +33 809 401 401 (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm). The English-language tax helpline cannot deal with property tax queries.

You can also arrange a phone interview with your local tax office - you can do this either by using the impots.gouv website (you do not need an account to be able to do this) or emailing them direct.

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Tax website crashing/glitching - the tax website generally has a fairly good record for reliability, but there are technical problems from time to time. If you've tried a couple of times and are still having problems with the site, a good idea is to turn off any translation tools that you are using, as this can affect how the site loads - it's usually more reliable to run the website in French, and have a translation tool like Google translate open in a separate window so you can copy and paste any bits that you need help with.

Using the paper-version instead - In 2024, tax authorities introduced the option to send in a paper version for those with limited internet access. That being said, you can still do it online by going to your local tax office and asking for help. For the paper version, you will still need a tax number (numéro fiscale). If you opt for this route, then you may want to use registered mail for proof that you sent it in prior to June 30th. You can download the document here. Keep in mind that tax authorities would prefer everyone fill out the form online, but you will not be penalised for using the paper option.

Getting help

If you're not confident about dealing with tax paperwork in French - or you just can't imagine a worse way to spend an afternoon - you may think it's worth paying a professional to do it for you.

You can find tips on finding English-speaking accountants in France HERE.

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Comments (1)

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Gina Jolliffe 2023/05/09 14:37
In the UK, I applied under one of our emails following The Local's guide and our account was set up within 12 hours. I supplied the N Fiscale and our scanned passports. Quick and easy and all the information was correct. Both of us are included as the tax office has had our purchase details anyway since 2002. Very useful that we can take copies of our Foncière and Habitation taxes and include them as proof in our 3-6 month visa applications.

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