Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taxes In France


We just finished 2010, finished paying for all my 2009 taxes (taxes are paid one year in arrears in France) and I have to start worrying about my 2010 tax form for this year.  This is because the French tax year runs for the calendar year (ie. from the 1st January to the 31st December).  Very soon I will be receiving my annual tax return form called declaration des revenues.  Notice that in France, even if you have no income to declare you are obliged to fill in a tax return form, the French tax authorities will then send you a statement saying that you have no tax to pay.  

Taxes are high in France and as you would expect in a country with millions of bureaucrats, the French tax system is complicated even for the French!  It doesn’t matter how much you inform yourself, just when you think you finally understand it and you know it all… paffff they change the rules or even worst hit you with a new tax.

Having said that taxes are high in France, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that Personal Income Tax (Impot sur le revenue) in France is below average for EU countries, especially for large families, as the amount of income tax paid is based on the number of dependant children.  But before you get too happy, I’ll bring you back to the crude reality… once you add social security contributions (regarded as a form of tax) and other taxes, French taxes are among the highest in the world!

Every individual is responsible for paying and declaring their own Income Tax in France.  Late payment of tax bills will add a surcharge of 10% penalty to your bill.  

Who pays tax in France?
Under the French tax code if you are a resident in France you have to pay taxes in France. You are considered a French resident if:
  • You are living permanently in France.
  • You spend over 183 days in France during a calendar year.
  • Your business is based in France
  • You work in France

Your taxable income can be considerably reduced by an array of allowances such as social security payments, home improvements and others.

For more information on paying your taxes in France, the 2011 tax calendar and some useful vocabulary to understand the French tax system you can click here


  1. The first question is why would anyone want to live in France?

  2. I love living in France because it is a beautiful country, I love the people ever so friendly and I find the food absolutely delicious.
    Taxes are high but probably they are worth it.

  3. I lived in France and would go back in a heartbeat! As for the taxes, they pay for medical care, retirement, almost free university education, low-cost and high-quality childcare, parental leave for one parent, four or more weeks of paid vacation (I got eight), and many more benefits. I had a fabulous time in my years in France and I miss it so much that I can't wait to return "home." And yes, I felt France was much more "home" than my own country.

  4. France can be expensive in terms of taxes and social charges, but yes, you do get your money back. A friend of mine got 3 years of paid maternity leave for her 4th child... where else in the world would you get that?

  5. Well, you're not obliged to fill out the form if you have no declarable income...they point this out in the explanatory notes...but, France being France you would be off your trolley not to do so!

  6. the fly in the web: if you have no income to declare it is always favorable to fill in an income tax form as you can use it later to justify your low -or lack of- income to claim back certain benefits and reductions for other things like family holidays, summer camps for children, reductions for canteen tickets and so on.

  7. The first time I had to pay Income taxes I was so mad at myself because I had not "planned" such an expense. I did not stay long enough in France (native country) as a worker to have to pay much more anyway... instead, I became unemployed in Sweden - where the Income taxes are 33% of the revenue and directly taken every month.
    I'd love to have to pay taxes again... no matter how high (as long as I have something left to live on)