Guide to French Income Tax


4. Your French Income Tax Return

  1. Who Must Make an Income Tax Return?
  2. Tax Return Dates
  3. Completing Your French Tax Return

4.2. Tax Return Dates


4.2.1. Residents

Your tax declaration for 2020 will cover your earnings for the calendar year ending 2019.

Historically there has been no PAYE system for employees, in the same way as occurs in the UK, although since 2019 there has been deduction at source, called prélèvement à la source.

You can read more about the prélèvement à la source at Taxation of Income in 2019.

The closing date each year by which the time the tax declaration needs to be submitted to the French tax authority varies by department. Submission of the return is normally required at the end of May, early June.

The submission service is available this year from 20th April 2020, a delay of several weeks due to Covid-19.

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.

The dates for on-line returns in 2020, delayed as a result of Covid-19, are as follows:

  • Departments 01 to 19 (zone 1) - 4th June
  • Departments 20 to 54 (zone 2) - 8th June
  • Departments 55 onwards (zone 3) - 11th June

If you are either a landlord or a business that is taxed on the basis of the régime réel you have until 30th June to submit the specific declarations that are required. It is the same date for those who use a société civile immobilière (SCI).

Self-employed business owners who are taxed on the basis of régime réel need to separately submit on-line declarations (Forms 2031 and 2035).

It is important you comply with the return date or face an additional 10% tax charge, which increases to 80% where there is substantial delay after a warning has been issued.

The government have stated that those who feel they cannot accomplish the task on-line should contact their local tax office to arrange for a paper based return to be made. Those without internet are also exempt as are those in those areas where there is no mobile phone coverage.

In addition, those making their first return need to submit a paper based return, as they will not have an on-line account until after their first return.

If you submit a paper-based return in 2020 the date is 12th June.

The return should be sent in to your local tax office whose address will be on the tax papers. If you have changed address in the year it should be sent to the tax office of your former address.

In order to avoid the risk of a penalty many French citizens send in their tax return by recorded delivery (recommandé avec accusé de réception), or hand it in personally to the tax office. Tax returns submitted on-line also receive confirmation of submission on-line.

If you seek advice or assistance with the completion of your income tax return French tax accountants Roche & Cie have for many years specialised in a service for English-speaking clients. Their contact address is rochecie@cabinet-roche.com.

For the 2019 return (2018 income) we have also prepared some basic guidance for those who wish to declare rental income from furnished lettings in France and for those who are registered as micro-entrepreneurs, which you can find at:

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.

4.2.2. Non-Residents

The date for submission of your on-line tax return in 2020 is 4th June.

For a paper return it is 4th June 2020.

If you have left France, and now live abroad, but you continue to have taxable income from France, you should send the declaration to your last tax office.

If you continue to earn income from France after you have ceased to resident, in the year you leave you will need to complete at least two forms. The forms are the normal Form 2042, as well as Form 2042-NR.

If you received income from abroad whilst you were resident in France you will also need to complete Form 2047.

We say more about the forms in the next section

If you have always lived outside of France you should submit to:

Service des Impôts des Particuliers des Non-Résidents (SIPNR), TSA 10010, 10 rue du Centre, 93465 Noisy-le-Grand, Cedex.

The email address of the office for non-residents is:

sip.nonresidents@dgfip.finances.gouv.fr

Tél: +33 (0)1 57 33 83 00.

The quality of service offered by the SIPNR has been the subject of a severe report from the French national audit office, which you can read about at Non-Resident Tax Service Not Fit for Purpose. We would be most interested to hear from you about what you think of the service. You can contact us at editor@french-property.com.

4.2.3. Modification of Your Tax Return

It is not a disaster if you submit a return and you later find it is incorrect for it is possible to change your tax return without any penalty.

If you were entitled to submit a paper return then you need to restart the process by filling out the forms.

To obtain new forms you need to go on-line at Impots.gouv.fr to obtain Form 2042, as well as any supplementary forms you may need. You can also pick up the forms from the local tax office.

You should either send in an accompanying letter explaining your new declaration, headed 'déclaration corrigée', or write on the first page of Form 2042 'déclaration rectificative, annule et replace'.

If you declared on-line then the rectification process is easier as you simply need to amend the figures initially submitted, provided you do so by the closing date when on-line changes are permitted, which is normally mid-July each year.

In addition, between August and the end of December the service re-opens again, when it is possible for you to go on-line to resubmit your return, even though you may have received your tax notice.

Indeed, receipt of the tax notice is frequently the occasion when you realise that you have incorrectly completed the application, an increasing problem with the change from paper based to on-line declarations.

However, if you wish to declare a change in your family circumstances (marriage, death, divorce), which you had omitted on the initial declaration, then on-line rectification is not possible; you will need to submit a paper return, together with a letter of explanation.

Beyond the 31st December of the tax year, it is still possible to modify your tax declaration, for up to three years, but you need to do so by a paper based submission. Thus, for your 2020 tax declaration, on 2019 income, you can still modify the return up to 31st Dec 2022.

If your changes result in an increase in your tax liability, you may be liable for an interest charge on the outstanding tax, but only if the amount exceeds 1/20th of your previous imposition. Similarly, only if the tax authority had commenced recovery procedures against you would a penalty be due.

You will receive a new income tax notice (avis d'imposition) if a tax notice has already been issued.

4.2.4. Tax Notice

When you have made your tax return on-line you will receive confirmation, called an Avis de Situation Déclarative à l'Impôt sur le Revenu (ASDIR).

You will be advised of the outcome of your tax declaration between 24th July and 3rd Sept, depending on location and whether you are liable to actually pay income tax. Information should be available on-line mid-August, although it is likely to be delayed as a result of Covid-19.

This tax notice is called l’avis des impots sur le revenu.

If you have tax to pay, the notice is called un avis d’imposition; if the tax authority judge you have no income tax to pay, you will receive un avis de non imposition.

If you lose the notice you can either access it through the tax authority web site, provided you are a registered user, or you can obtain a copy from your local tax office.


Next: Completing Your French Tax Return

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