9. Local Property Taxes in France

  1. Taxe d’Habitation
  2. Taxe Foncière

9.2. Taxe Foncière - Property Ownership Tax

This tax is an annual property ownership tax imposed on the owner, whether or not the property is actually occupied by them or rented out.

The tax is levied for the year in which it is imposed and payable by the person(s) owning the property on 1st January of that year.

The tax goes towards the funding of local services by the commune, inter-communal and departmental councils. So all three councils impose an element of the tax and benefit from partial receipt of the revenues from it.

9.2.1. Calculation of the Tax

The determination of the amount payable is made by the local councils, but the calculation and collection of the tax is carried out by the central government tax authority.

The basis on which the tax determined is similar to that of the tax d’habitation, although in a more straightforward manner.

Broadly speaking, the basis of the assessment is the notional rent that the property might be expected to achieve in the open market, having regard to the size condition and location of the property.

This assessment is then discounted by 50% to take account of running costs, eg repairs, insurance.

This notional rent may not bear any relation to any actual rent that may be being paid on the property as the notional rental values date from 1970.

The valeur locative brute of the property should be stated on the rear of the tax demand, and if you wish to query it you will need to visit your local Centre des Impôts Fonciers (Service de Cadastre), whose contact details are also given on the tax notice.

A percentage rate is then applied to this notional rent based on the income the authorities need to raise, called the taux d'imposition.

The rate of tax varies marginally according to whether the property is the main home or a second home. In the case of the latter the rate for management costs is higher (3% rather than 1%).

Homes with a high rateable value also have an additional rate applied against them, called prélèvements pour base élevée et sur les maison secondaires.

For a second home the percentage rate is 1.2% for properties with a rateable value between €4,573 and €7,622 and 1.7% if they exceed this figure. For main homes the rate is 0.2% if the rateable value exceeds €4,573.

There is no automatic abatement of the tax for children, as is the case for the taxe d'habitation.

If you are buying a property the tax payable may be shown on the property particulars. If not, ask the seller or agent for a copy of the most recent tax demand, called avis d’imposition.

However, be careful how you interpret the net figure payable, as the gross amount may have been reduced due to the income or other circumstances of the current owner. If in doubt the Centre des Impôts Fonciers should be able to advise you of the gross amount, but the figure should also be on the tax demand.

Some local councils also make a separate charge for rubbish collection, in a tax called taxe d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (TEOM), which is sent out with the taxe foncière. Where the tax is not levied, the costs of rubbish collection are funded from the general budget.

The level of the tax is generally higher in towns than in the countryside and also as between different regions of the country. The amount payable each year varies so much between local tax authorities and different properties that it would be pointless to state an average.

The tax demand is sent out during the third quarter of the year with a specified end date for payment, unless you elect to choose to pay on a monthly or annual basis by direct debit.

The tax demand is called avis d’imposition tax foncière. The detail of the calculation will show you how much of the tax goes to the various councils and their changes to the rate.

The tax has wide application to all types of property whether residential, commercial, industrial or professional.

Land is also subject to the tax, though to a lesser extent, and there are also exemptions for buildings of an agricultural nature. There is also relief for the planting of new woodland.

In the event you sell a property during the year you are obliged to pay the tax for the full year, although it is not unusual for there to be an agreement with the new owner concerning sharing of the tax, which needs to be incorporated in the sale and purchase agreement.

If you carry out major improvements to the property you are obliged to notify your local property tax office in order that there can be a revaluation of the property. Likewise with a new construction.

The relevant forms can usually be obtained from the local mairie or contact your tax office responsible for local property taxes, called the Centre des impôts fonciers within 90 days of practical completion. For new houses you should use Form H1, whilst for major improvements to an existing property you should use Form IL6704.

9.2.2. Exempted Properties

I. New Buildings

New buildings, additions to existing buildings, and rural conversions are granted full exemption from the tax for two years, provided the works are declared to the tax authority within 90 days of practical completion. Buildings of a non-domestic nature are only granted partial relief.

The relief of that part of the tax imposed by the commune is subject to no contrary decision by the commune or inter-communal body to impose the tax.

II. Energy Works

There is also partial (50%) or full exemption, for up to 5 years, for those new homes constructed to an energy efficiency standard that is higher than the regulations currently in force. This exemption is at the discretion of the local authorities. You would need to make enquiries at your local tax office.

Local authorities are also permitted to exempt from the tax those older homes that have had important energy conservation works carried out to them.

This exemption only applies to those dwellings built before 1989, and also on condition that the expenditure (excluding labour costs) in the previous year on such works exceeds €10,000, or €15,000 over the previous three years.

The exemption is at the rate of 50% to 100% for a period of up to five years.

Once again you would need to discuss with your local tax office.

You can read more about these tax exemptions and other forms of assistance for energy conservation works at Financial Assistance for Home Energy Conservation in France.

III. Landlords

If you are a landlord and you are having difficulty in letting a property, or you are carrying out major works that makes it unsuitable for letting, then you can also obtain relief from payment of the tax.

The property must be incapable of occupation or otherwise vacant for at least three months despite your best efforts get it occupied. Proof of works, or attempts to let, must be supplied.

If the rent you are seeking is considered excessive you may not be granted relief

9.2.3. Tax Relief

There is an exemption from the tax for certain persons, although they are not as wide as that of the local residence tax, the taxe d'habitation.

The following groups are granted relief from the tax:

  • Persons over 75 years of age on 1st January in the year of imposition, provided their income in the previous year did not exceed the eligible threshold (see below);
  • Registered disabled persons irrespective of age in receipt of l'allocation aux adultes handicapés (AAH);
  • Persons in receipt of l'allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées (ASPA), or the l'allocation supplémentaire d'invalidité (ASI);
  • Persons over 65 years of age on 1st January in the year of imposition, and less than 75 years, are entitled to a reduction of (at least) €100 in the amount payable, provided they meet the test of resources.

If you are disabled, but do not receive the AAH, you should discuss your circumstances with your local tax office to establish whether you might be granted exemption. We have found the rules are not interpreted in a consistent manner.

Persons over 75 who qualify on income grounds may obtain exemption on a second home, although in all cases the relief is subject to the property being your principal residence.

In relation to the income tests, assessment to entitlement your your income is considered to be your revenu fiscal de référence as stated on your tax notice for the previous year. This figure is, of course, always lower than that of your actual gross income.

The applicable income limits for 2016 are based on your net income for 2015 (revenu fiscal de reference), which cannot be greater than €10,697 for one person, and €16,409 for a couple. The limit is increased by €2,856 for each dependent 'half-part' in the household.

The exoneration does not apply to that part of the tax related to rubbish collection.

There is also discretion to the local councils to grant relief on payment of the tax to others on a low income, but this is not widely adopted because of the importance of the tax to the operation of the councils. The reduction would in any event only be payable if the rateable value of your property was no greater than 130% of the average in the commune. You should check the tax demand you receive to see whether your council had adopted any of the discretionary exemptions.

Separately from the above reliefs, for low income households there is also a cap that has been set on the amount of the tax, which cannot be greater than 50% of net income. This cap is only available for the main home, to those who are not liable for wealth tax. We do not imagine there are many who are likely to benefit from this concession!

The tax demand is sent out in the third quarter of the year with a specified end date for payment, unless you elect to choose to pay on a monthly or annual basis by direct debit. You can also pay it via the internet, or by cheque.

9.2.4. Payment

With two local rates to pay in France it is well worth setting up a monthly direct debit with the tax office to spread the pain over the year.

There is no additional tax charge.

The tax demand for the taxe foncière is sent out in September, whilst the demand for the taxe d'habitation in October.

The former is payable in October and the latter in November.

The dates for second home owners are normally offset by a month from those of principal home owners, although not in all cases.

If you wish to set up a monthly payment (prélèvement mensuel) it is well worth considering.

You can do so either on-line, or via the direct debit centre for your department.

i. On-Line - Setting up an account on the government tax website is easy and useful, although you cannot do so in your first tax year in France.

To do so you will need three elements:

Numéro fiscal - A 13 figure number that you will find near the top of tax declaration form you will receive.
Numéro de déclarant en ligne - A 7 figure number that you will again find on the first page of your tax declaration.
Revenu fiscal de référence - This is found on the last page of your tax notice.

You will also need your bank account details.

When you have this information go to Mon Espace and set up an account, when you will need to choose a password and provide your e mail address. Once sorted, you then go to the relevant page for payments and set it up.

ii. Direct Debit Centre - If you are having difficulties in using the internet contact your Centre Prélèvement Service.

The direct debits will be paid in 10 monthly payments each year commencing January, although the January payment is collected in February, when you will be debited for two months.

You will be advised of the direct debit dates.

Unless you cancel the direct debit it will apply for subsequent years.

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