The Contribution Economique Territoriale (CET) is a local tax imposed by the departmental and regional councils on businesses to assist in the funding of local services and the Chambres de Commerce/Metiers.
The tax was introduced in January 2010, replacing the previously controversial form of business rates called the taxe professionelle.
The taxe professionnelle was a peculiar exception française.
The formula for calculating the tax was very complex. Broadly speaking, however, 20% of the tax was based on the rateable value of the property, and 80% based on the value of the capital machinery and equipment employed in the business.
As the tax weighed primarily on capital employed, the more a company invested, the larger its tax burden!
The abolition of the taxe professionnelle now effectively removes the second, preponderant element of the former tax, that based on capital equipment.
The Contribution Economique Territoriale (CET) is made up of two component parts:
So, CET = CFE + CVAE.
We do not consider the CVAE here as only those businesses with a turnover of greater than €500K are liable.
Local councils have the discretion to set a minimum level of rates, which is really aimed at to cover those circumstances where the business has no real estate.
The minimum rates depend on the level of turnover of the business and for 2016 (payable in 2015) the new bands are as follows, subject to the local council having made an appropriate resolution to do so:
The reference year used for determining the turnover figure is two years prior to the year of imposition. So for rates payable in 2016, the reference year is 2014. New companies are not taxed in their first year and pay at the rate of 50% in their second year.
There are a number of exemptions from the tax, some permanent and some temporary, perhaps the most important of which is that artisans who work alone or in a family business are exempt.
Owners of chambres d'hotes and accredited gite accommodation are also exempt, provided the property is at least part of their residence and that it is only holiday lettings.
There are exemptions for companies located in development areas, and, at the discretion of the local council, those leisure based businesses who operate on a seasonal basis (activités saisonnières) are granted a pro-rata reduction in the rateable value base from which the tax is calculated.
Even though a new company will be granted exemption in its first year (and possibly second year by local decision) you will be sent a Form 1003 for completion in your first year in order for the assessment process to be carried out.
The tax is payable at the end of each year in December and can also be paid monthly.
As always, you would be well advised to take good accountancy advice, or speak to your Centre d’impôts, to establish the likely level of the tax for your business.