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Hundreds of French communes given extra tax-raising powers

The Local France
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Hundreds of French communes given extra tax-raising powers
Local authorities across France have been given extra tax-raising powers. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of French communes have been given the power to impose extra property taxes in 2023.

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A decree published in the Journel Officiel on October 3rd lists 154 communes as newly created zones tendues - among them are towns including Arras, Cholet, Le Mans, Troyes, Evreux, Besançon and Colmar, but also many smaller towns and villages, especially along the coast.

A zone tendue means an area with a housing shortage - but on a more practical level gives local authorities power to levy extra property taxes, specifically to impose a surcharge on second-homes or to impose an empty homes tax (taxe sur les logements vacants) on unoccupied properties.

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The government has recently expanded the categories of areas that can apply for zone tendue status, allowing communes of fewer than 50,000 inhabitants to also apply for the designation.

Local authorities must provide that demand for housing outstrips the supply. 

This has become a major problem in some of France's most popular tourist resorts, with locals priced out of the market in areas including Cannes and Saint Tropez, as well as in areas of the Alps and Pyrenees popular with skiers. Several Alps towns have reported that more than 90 percent of properties in the area are second homes.

Areas with zone tendue status have the power to impose a surcharge on the taxe d'habitation on second-homes of up to 60 percent.

READ ALSO Where in France are second-home owners liable for a surcharge?

They also have the power to impose the 'empty homes tax' - although this is only applicable to properties that are both empty and unfurnished, it wouldn't apply to second-homes even if the owner has not visited that year.

READ ALSO Who has to pay France's 'empty homes tax'?

The choice of whether to impose one or both taxes is up to the local authority. The rate is also decided by the local authority, up to the maximum of 60 percent. 

You can find the full list of new zones tendues here.

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