Understanding French Property Tax

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If you’re living as a long-term resident in France and you’re renting or own a property there, you’ll likely have to pay some sort of property tax.

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of French property tax and what you’ll need to pay.

Types of Property Tax in France

There are three different types of French property tax that you should be aware of if you reside in France and rent or own property.

Taxe d’habitation (local residence tax)

This French tax originally was paid on January 1st for the whole year by whoever was occupying the property. That means that even if this resident moved out on January 2, they were still responsible for paying the taxe d’habitation for the entire year.

The tax is calculated on the estimated rent the property is expected to fetch in the rental market. You’ll typically receive the bill for this in October.

Going into 2020, some rules around this have changed. If you earn less than €27,432 a year, you will not have to pay any property tax. If you earn more than this amount, you’ll have to pay a certain amount of tax.

France has a TV tax. Yes, really. If you have more than one television in your home, you’ll have to pay the la redevance audiovisuelle on your next tax return. That’s even if you’re only using the TV to watch DVDs or stream from your laptop. The amount is currently €139, and don’t worry, you only have to pay it once.

Will I be charged tax for a holiday home in France?

Yes, you still have a tax liability if you have a holiday home in France. This tax still applies even if you aren’t physically living in the home on January 1st

If you’re only using a property a few times a year and rent it out, you may be exempted from this tax but may be liable for business tax rates.

If your holiday home is in a highly sought-after area, you may have to pay a surcharge on your taxe d'habitation. This can range from 5% to 60% of the value of your home.

Those highly sought-after areas are:

  • Ajaccio
  • Annecy
  • Arles
  • Bastia
  • Bayonne
  • Beauvais
  • Bordeaux
  • Draguignan
  • Fréjus
  • Genève–Annemasse
  • Grenoble
  • La Rochelle
  • La Teste-de-Buch–Arcachon
  • Lille
  • Lyon
  • Marseille–Aix-en-Provence
  • Meaux
  • Menton–Monaco
  • Montpellier
  • Nantes
  • Nice
  • Paris
  • Saint-Nazaire
  • Sète
  • Strasbourg
  • Thonon-les-Bains
  • Toulon
  • Toulouse

Taxe foncière (ownership tax)

This is a property ownership tax that will be paid by the property owner, regardless of if the property is rented out or occupied by said owner. The money goes towards funding local services and councils.

The tax is calculated on the estimated rent the property is expected to fetch in the rental market. That estimation is then cut in half to account for insurance, repairs, etc., but will leave you with the final amount to pay.

The bill arrives in the last quarter of the year, typically September. The amount to be paid is based on the estimated annual rental value of your property multiplied by a certain percentage (typically 1% for primary residences and 3% for secondary homes). You can pay it in instalments throughout the year or monthly in advance by direct debit.

Waste Collection Tax

This tax is based on the waste collection service in your commune and will be included in your taxe foncière bill. You will be charged for this even if it is your second property and you are not living in the property full-time. Property owners are always liable for this tax.

The charged rate is the same rate used to calculate your taxe foncière.

French Property Tax Exemptions

You may be exempt from the above property taxes depending on your personal circumstances.

Exemptions to the taxe d’habitation

You are not liable for taxe d’habitation if the property is involuntarily unoccupied. This can only be proved if:

  • You are a landlord and have been trying to rent your property to no avail, and have proof of your efforts
  • The property has been on the market and still has not been sold, despite your best efforts
  • The property is considered uninhabitable and the costs to fix it up are over 25% of the value of the property

You are also exempt from the tax if you are one of the following:

  • Over 60 years old (subject to a test)
  • Widowed persons (subject to a test)
  • Disabled persons eligible for French disability payments
  • People who are receiving French employment insurance

These exemptions only apply if this is your principal residence and you are also not liable for French wealth tax.

Exemptions to the taxe foncière

You may be exempt from this tax for two years if you are creating a new building or addition to a building. This is only if you declare it to the tax authority within 90 days of its completion.

If your property has a higher energy efficiency than mandated, you may be eligible for a 50% or full exemption. If your property is much older (built before 1989) and is having work done to make it more energy-efficient, you may also be exempt.

Finally, if you’re a landlord and you’re having trouble renting out your property (and have proof of your efforts) you can be exempt from this tax. The property must have been empty for more than three months despite your best efforts.

Exemptions to the Waste Collection tax

There are no exemptions to the Waste Collection tax, even if your property is exempt from the taxe foncière.

How do I pay property tax in France?

You can do so online, but not in your first tax year in France. You will have to go to the Centre Prélèvement Service to set up a payment method.

If this is not your first tax year in France, you can set up your billing on the French government’s tax website.

You’ll need your numéro fiscal (the 13-figure number on the top of your tax declaration form), numéro de déclarant en ligne (a 7-figure number on the same declaration) and your revenu fiscal de référence (found on the last page of your tax notice). You’ll also need to input your bank account details.