Each person must determine his/her tax status at home and in France while living abroad. Some countries have bilateral agreements with France to avoid double taxation on earnings. EU countries have treaties by which there is no double taxation, but since French taxation is based on the length of annual residency, all people should make sure to check with their employer or the tax bureau in their home country to determine its domicile requirements.
British citizens with questions should visit https://www.gov.uk/tax-foreign-income/overview.
All Americans must file a federal tax return, although there is a tax exemption on income earned abroad. The IRS Office in Philadelphia provides international tax assistance, Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. +001 (267) 941-1000, (Mail Address: Internal Revenue Service, Philadelphia, Pa 19255-0725). You can also download information from the US Embassy in Paris website at http://france.usembassy.gov/irs.html.
The French tax system is complicated and there are adjustments to it almost annually. Your company and your country’s embassy should be able to give you a list of qualified, English-speaking (or your native language) tax consultants in Paris. International firms are up-to-date on both French and international laws and procedures and treaties between countries. They can help prepare returns, handle audits and offer business-related services.
The Tax System
The French tax year coincides with the calendar year. Tax filing for salaried employees is due by the end of February, for independent contractors two months later. Taxes are based on le revenu (earned income) and capitaux mobiliers (unearned income). There are some rebates and exemptions and a standard deduction for married people and those with children. French employers do not withhold any amount for tax (this is not to be confused with the 20% that is withheld for social security). After the tax return (declaration des revenues) is filed, the government calculates the tax due and sends a bill. After the first year in the system, you may pay in three installments or have it debited monthly from a checking account. First-time taxpayers must declare themselves and their taxable income to the appropriate Centre des Impots (Tax Center). After your initial contact, the Centre will contact you.
The location of your Centre des Impots depends upon where you reside. In order to determine where is your Centre des Impots, the French Yellow Pages http://www.pagesjaunes.fr (in French only). You can also go to your local Mairie and ask at the Information Counter. A last resort, is to ask a neighbor in your building because as a general rule, their Centre is your Centre. Be careful if you ask the neighbor who lives across the street because it is not unheard of to have different Centres for the odd and even-numbered sides of the street.
You can get a cursory summary of French taxes at http://www.france-property-and-information.com/taxes-in-france.htm, however, it is prudent to confirm all tax information with the appropriate source.
If you have an adequate level of French, there is a lot of free advice available.
- Ministere des Finances, Service de la Legislation Fiscale, Bureau E-1, 139 rue de Bercy, Teledoc 568 75012, 01.40.24.92.00
- Centre fiscal des non-residents, 01.44.76.18.00
- http://www.impots.gouv.fr is the site where you can declare your taxes online; numerous FAQ’s are answered, but it is all in French.
- http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/N20073.xhtml is a public service site with a good section on taxes. Only in French.
- United States IRS Office, at the US Embassy, 01.43.12.25.55, is available to answer questions about taxation and tax returns.
- IRS Office in Philadelphia, 267/941-1000; This is the principal office responsible for providing international tax assistance, such as answering questions related to tax law, foreign tax issues, and notices and bills. No French required!
Residents should inquire as to the allocations familiales, in which families living with dependent children are entitled to a tax-free family allowance. Check with the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales de Paris, 50 rue du Dr Finlay 75015, 08.20.25.75.10, http://www.caf.fr. If you are paying into the French tax system, even if you are not French, you are most likely eligible.