4.1. Who Must Make an Income Tax Return?
If you are resident in France you are obliged to submit a income tax return. That is to say, each household must submit a tax return, assuming they are taxed as a single tax unit.
If you live as an unmarried couple with no civil partnership you are each required to complete a tax return.
If during the year you become married or separated you can opt to make one or two tax declarations.
In the event of the death of one person in a marriage two tax declarations need to be made covering the periods before and after death.
You are also obliged to submit a return if you are non-resident but have earnings from France.
This rule applies even though you may be below the income threshold for liability to French income tax.
Nevertheless, since 2020 (for 2019 income), for employees in France, and for those only in receipt of a French pension, there is no longer a requirement to make a return, due to deduction at source by the employer or pension fund. Those who are exempt will be notified by the tax authority. It is estimated this new measure affects around 12 million households.
If you have not previously made a tax declaration in France, (déclaration des revenues) then you may well not be sent a tax return for your first submission.
You should contact your local tax office and ask for the forms.
You could also download the forms from the French tax authority website, although see later in 4.3 of this section about the forms you need to complete. There are different forms for different types and sources of income (and capital gains).
There are no concessions if you later claim to the French tax authority that you did not submit a tax return because you were not sent one!
Although you may not have previously submitted an on-line tax return in France, it is still possible to do so by going to the tax authority website at Impots.gouv.fr. Go to 'Contact' and then go to 'Vous êtes particulier' > 'Votre demande concerne l'accès à votre espace particulier' > 'Je n'ai pas de numéro fiscal'. When you have your numéro fiscal you can make a declaration on-line.
In the second year you will need to declare on-line, although those without an internet connection or who otherwise consider themselves incapable through age or disability of making a declaration on-line can continue to make a paper declaration.
In order to declare on-line you will need to connect to Impots.gouv.fr and click on 'Votre Espace Particulier' and create an account with 'Création de mon espace particuliere.'
You will need to obtain from your first tax notice (avis d'imposition) your:
Numéro fiscal; Numéro d'accès en ligne; Revenu fiscal de référence.
In your first year, those relocating to France from the UK should complete the HM Revenue Form 85, which advises the UK tax authority that you are moving abroad, and will enable you to reclaim any overpaid tax.
When you complete your first French tax return you should also complete the Form FD5, which the French tax authority then use to confirm to the UK authority that you are French tax resident.
We have published an Income Tax 2020 Newsletter Special, giving advice on how to make a French income tax return on 2019 income, which you can find at French Income Tax 2020.
If you would like to receive regular information on French taxes, French property ownership and living in France, then you can register to receive our free monthly Newsletter.
The Guides to France are published for general information only.
Please visit our Disclaimer for full details.