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Taxe Foncière and Taxe d'Habitation - property tax in France

A guide to tax that is payable on French property ( council tax )

Property tax in France - two instead of one

In England you have the dreaded Council Tax, in France we have Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Foncière. There's no escaping it, in whichever country you decide to take up residence, you will have to pay a property tax of some sort. Taxes can be a very worrying part of the decision to make a new life abroad, so it is important to know exactly what taxes you may be liable for and how you will be charged. You may also wonder, will you be better off in France or in England? On the face of it, one tax sounds better than two, but does it really pan out like that?

Taxe Foncière and Taxe d'Habitation - why must I pay these taxes?

Wherever you live, you will benefit from local services such as street lighting, street cleaning and collection of waste and recyclable materials. Local administrative services have to be maintained and financed, and everybody who is part of a community has to pay their share. Both the property taxes in France and the Council Tax in England serve the same purpose, that is, to cover these and similar costs.

First tax on French property - Taxe Foncière

Taxe Foncière is the tax that is levied on property owners. Whoever you are, whether you live in the property or not, if you own it you must pay up.

How much is the Taxe Foncière?

Taxe Foncière is more expensive than the other property tax, Taxe d'Habitation, but the actual amount varies according to where the property is, as well as the "Valeur Locative Cadestral", or in English, the (notional) rental value.

Who decides the amount of Taxe Foncière payable?

The amounts payable are decided by the local authorities of each region. Some regions are much more expensive than others, so you cannot make a guess at the rates of taxation by comparing your house with a similar property elsewhere.

Once set, will the amount of Taxe Foncière remain the same?

The valeur locative cadestrale is reviewed every year, so the Taxe Foncière can be changed according to the findings of the review committees. The tax is calculated on two counts, that is, on the buildings and the land that together form the property. It is also your responsibility to update the information held on your property if you make substantial improvements that will affect the notional rental value, such as the addition of a swimming pool (Installing a swimming pool in France) or a gîte (Owning Gîtes and Chambres D'Hotes (B&Bs) in France, Gites for sale).

When do I have to pay Taxe Foncière?

Taxe Foncière is usually payable in October, on a date that will be specified on the form you receive in the post. Take note, though, if you have only just become a French property owner and this is your first Taxe Foncière bill, make sure that you have received it during September. If not, go to the local council offices, or contact them and request it. What happens frequently in these circumstances is that the bill is sent to the English address (even if you have sold up and moved out to France) with the result that the tax is not paid on time and a fine is levied. Sometimes it is possible to have this fine revoked in these circumstances, but it is a subjective matter and cannot be relied upon! To avoid possible problems, as with all things to do with taxes and France, take the initiative and make sure it is paid before any problems can arise.

Second tax on French property - Taxe d'Habitation

The second property tax in France is known as Taxe d'Habitation, and this is paid by the occupiers of a property, whether they own it or rent it. If you live in the property but do not own it, therefore, you are liable to pay this tax although you do not have to pay the Taxe Foncière. If you own the property but rent it out to someone else, the Taxe Foncière is your responsibility but not the Taxe d'Habitation. Incidentally, if you own a property and rent it out, and your tenant doesn't pay their Taxe d'Habitation by the due date, they are written to by the Trésorerie and given a 10% amende (fine). If they further refuse to pay, by French law the Trésorerie has the right to take the money direct from their bank account. If they have no funds they will instruct the "huissiers" (bailiffs). The Trésorerie can also get their bank account "blocked" via the Banque de France. Thus Taxe d'Habitation is never usually a concern for landlords as tenants don't want to risk having a debt with the Trésorerie.

It is also worth noting that this tax also includes the television licence fee, and this is obligatory to pay if you have a television at all in the property, whether or not you claim to use it to watch television, let alone French television (Television in France and French TV)!

How much is Taxe d'Habitation?

Taxe d'Habitation, or the occupancy tax, is less expensive than the tax on ownership of property. Like the Foncière tax, however, it varies considerably from place to place. As a general rule, towns are more expensive than villages, and country properties less costly still.

Who decides the amounts?

The amounts are decided by the local authorities in the same manner as the Foncière tax.

When is it due?

The Taxe d'Habitation is payable in November each year.

Council Tax in the UK

Council Tax is England's equivalent of the property taxes levied in France. Brought in to replace and rationalise the highly unpopular Poll Tax, Council Tax is set according to property value and organised into bands, with Band A being the lowest end of the scale, and Band F the highest. The amount of Council Tax payable also varies from place to place according to the rates set by local authorities. Council tax is set to cover the cost of local services such as refuse collection and street cleaning in much the same way as the property taxes in France.

Tax exemptions and discounts

It is worth noting that although most people are liable for these taxes, there are a few exemptions and discounts in both countries. Some new buildings may be exempt from property taxes in France for the first couple of years, but you need to make an application to the authorities. France may also make reductions or exemptions for some properties undergoing renovation, or those that are deemed uninhabitable (this usually means those with no services connected and no furniture). Reductions or exemptions may also apply to those people over a certain age, to students, to people with certain disabilities and to those on low incomes, as long as the property is their main residence. These reductions are given only if you have submitted a tax return in France, declaring your income. They are given automatically by the local tax authorities when you submit your tax return. Should you think yourself eligible for a discount and it has not been awarded, you will need to contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort it out. In England there are similar exemptions and reductions for those on disability allowance, pensioners and the unemployed.

Tax reductions for those who are retired

With the Taxe Fonciere, a reduction may be possible for those French residents over the age of 75, if on low income (limits in 2010 are currently 9,876 Euros for one person and 15,150 Euros for a couple). Reductions may also be made for those over 65 years old, depending on their resources. With Taxe d'Habitation, total exemption from the tax may be given to those over 60 years old, as long as they would not be eligible for wealth tax (French Wealth Tax) and their income is not above the limits mentioned above.

Comparison between France and UK

Will you be better off in England or in France? I must stress here that it is impossible to say with complete certainty or accuracy, as every case is different, but as a comparison, take a look at the figures for a Band F property in Derwentside, Co Durham. The council tax for this type of property (value on or over £320,000) is currently standing at almost £3,000. A similar property here, in a similar situation (as in terms of value, facilities, proximity to towns etc.) is charged at 700 Euros for the Foncière tax and 450 Euros for the d'Habitation tax. That is a significant difference! (However, see point 2 under the "Your comments" section, to read of a visitor to the site's Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation costs.)

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Tax in France
Savings and investments in France
Sarkozy and French property owners
Banking in France

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

your questions...

1. A question about available tax discounts (added 12/3/2009)...

I found your article on property tax (Tax Fonciere & Tax d'habitation) quite informative. However, in the exemptions there is no mention of whether a house being renovated can have any tax discounts? I am getting different information from several sources so a definitive answer would have been great.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. If you are referring to discounts on Taxe Fonciere & Tax d'Habitation, then I understand that owners of new and restored homes can be exempt from paying the Taxe Fonciere for up to two years from the 1st of January following completion of the restoration. (However, I am not sure if a renovated property is considered to be the same as a restored property.) For this discount, you have to apply within 90 days of completion of the work, to your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) before the 31st December for exemption for the following year. So I would suggest that you contact this office in order to get a definitive answer as to whether this exemption would apply to your renovation.

And if you are thinking of other tax discounts that you might be able to get, I know you can get tax discounts on materials used in renovating a property if you use a French registered builder, and there are ways of reducing capital gains tax on the sale of a renovated property (see our articles on "Tax in France" and "House Renovations in France").

You might also be interested to read our article "Property grants available in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/property-grants-france.html).

I hope this information will be of some use.

2. A question about Taxe Fonciere (added 12/3/09)...

I have what I hope is a simple question you may be able to answer. I am now the proud owner of a property in the Charentes which I purchased from an English couple in mid-January this year. They have received the Taxe Fonciere and have told us as we are the owners that we are responsible for 11/12th of the bill and are looking for me to pay this to them. Could you confirm whether I have legal liability for this proportion of the Taxe or it is simply something perhaps they forgot to factor in when they were selling the property (they would have been fully aware of Taxe being charged annually as they had been the owners for over 10 years).

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. With regard to your question about Taxe Fonciere, I understand that in most cases where a property is sold, it is up to the notaire to arrange for new owners (ie: you) to agree to pay for the portion of the year that they will own the house. But this should have been sorted out when signing all the papers (I think in the final conveyance deed - acte de vente) so you would have been aware that a portion of this bill (and 11/12th sounds about right) would be due at about this time. If this wasn't included in the papers you signed and this wasn't discussed or agreed between the vendors and yourself, I would say you are under no obligation to pay it. I certainly don't believe there is a law which states that you must pay this portion of the tax fonciere bill.

However, as I am no legal expert, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor, perhaps using one from our Essential section or Services section of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/memberscat.asp?category=LEGAL

3. A question about Taxe d'Habitation (added 12/3/09)...

I hope that you can help with a question on this tax. We own an apartment in France and only use it for our own holidays, usually twice a year for a total of a month. Do we have to pay the full amount of Taxe d'Habitation?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us and apologies for the delay in reply. In answer to your question, I understand that as long as property is habitable, then the person who occupies it on the 1st of January is liable to pay the full amount of Taxe d'Habitation for that year, even if they might not be physically resident there at that time. This is also irrespective of how long they may physically be resident there throughout the year.

These matters are all decided by your local council authorities and the Mairie, so for further detailed information it might be worth you contacting them.

4. A question about both Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation (added 12/3/09)...

Can you tell me if I don't live in France but visit the house no more than 20 days a year - am I still liable for Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere?

Also I do have a TV for videos - can you confirm that I would pay taxes on this TV? Is this also true?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. In answer to your questions and as mentioned previously, I understand that as long as property is habitable, then the person who legally occupies it on the 1st of January in any year is liable to pay the full amount of Taxe d'Habitation for that year, even if they might not be physically resident there at that time. This is also irrespective of how long they may physically be resident there throughout the year.

I also believe the Taxe Fonciere must also be paid in full by the legal owners of the property, irrespective of how many days in the year they actually occupy the property for.

There are certain conditions where people may be exempt from paying both taxes or pay a reduced tax, but this is usually only where this property is the main residence.

And with regard to TV licences, I think this must also be paid in full, even though you are only using it for videos.

However, as I'm not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact your Mairie or local council office, as that is where these decisions are made.

5. A question about discounts available (added 12/3/09)...

Thanks for the website giving info on the taxes in France. There is something I would like to see added. We are retired. One person over 75 in poor health. The other over 60. Both receiving state retirement pension from the UK. Recently purchased a house in France (sole residence). In accordance with your info there should be concessions concerning both taxes. However the process for applying for them is unclear.

I have just trolled through the town making enquiries. MAIRIE---CENTRE FISCAL PERCEPTION----CENTRE DES' IMPOTS and then finally been referred back to the MAIRIE. I still have not been able to apply for said concessions. My French is minimal but adequate for establishing that I am being fobbed off. Could you please provide the process for application in these circumstances? Merci boucoup.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I am sorry you are not getting anywhere with finding out about any discount you are entitled to. I would certainly say the Mairie should know all about this and point you in the right direction. It may be just a matter of persisting with the Mairie, though have you also tried the local council offices - the sous-prefecture? They should also know.

However, as I am not an expert in this matter I would suggest you contact a legal advisor should your local council office not be able to help, by using the following link:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

You could also try a company such as Help in France, which offers all types of assistance to people who have moved to France:

http://www.help-in-france.co.uk/

Incidentally, my colleague whose father lives in France, says that he understands that you only get concessions if you have submitted a tax return in France declaring your income. Then once they know about you and can see your income you can claim the concession.

6. A question about altering rooms in properties the effect on property tax (added 13/8/09)...

I bought an apartment in 2004 then another in 2006 and have now knocked through and combined them. A French friend suggested that, as I have removed one of the kitchens, perhaps my property tax should reduce. Do you know if this is the case please?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague Joanna in France who says:

"I'm afraid I'm not certain about this...I do know that the taxes do change according to the number of rooms in a house, but I don't know if that includes the kitchen. Certain rooms, usually utilities, don't count in the room count, it is rooms such as bedrooms and sitting rooms that seem to make the difference. The best thing to do is to ask at the prefecture or mairie. It doesn't hurt to tell the tax people there has been a change, it can't put the tax up, so there nothing to lose."

I myself also understand that there is a legal obligation to tell the local tax authorities if you have made substantial alterations to a building, so would advise you to do this whatever the outcome.

I am sorry we cannot be of more help, but hope this information will be of some use.

7. A question about Taxe d'Habitation (added 13/8/09)...

I have lived in France since September 07. I went to the tax office in May 08, and they gave me a tax form for 07, I said it I wanted it for 08 as I wasn't classed as resident in France in 07. They told me to come back in September. In September they told me to come back in May 09. I spoke to my Notaires agent and said I was worried as my Foncieres tax form had been sent to England and I didn't want any more mistakes. He rang the tax office and requested they use my married name instead of my birth name, and confirmed that I was now resident in France.

I didn't receive my tax forms when everyone else did so went to the tax office and completed them. I asked about habitation tax and the lady said no. I then received a demand for habitation tax in the post. I went in but my French is not quite good enough to explain, so I wrote a letter and got a friend to make sure it would be understood explaining why I should be exempt. I received a reply stating that I should be exempt, but as my home wasn't my principal residence I would have to pay. I went back with another friend who could speak French. Basically it appears that because I did not put in a tax return for 07 I cannot claim habitation tax exemption for 08. This was never explained, in fact although there are people who can speak English in the tax office, if you ask for assistance because your use of French is not up to dealing with the tax office you will not get it. I explained that I had been told I would not have to pay and I don't have £450 lying aorund. The lady was adamant. I asked what I had to do to prove the house was my principal residence and she stated that it didn't matter if I could prove it because I did not complete a tax return for 07, I would not get it. I said I didn't have the money to which she replied that if I didn't pay they would take it. By now it was getting close to lunch time and she suddenly suggested that perhaps I could get a discount if I completed a form. On this form I have to declare all my outgoings and my income. However, I feel that if I complete this I won't be able to challenge the decision. Can you advise please?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest that after what you have been through it may be worth contacting a company such as Help in France (http://www.help-in-france.co.uk/), who should be able to sort this out for you, for a relatively small fee. Or is it worth talking to the Mairie to see if they can help? From what you have said, I am not sure I understand why you would be exempt from Taxe d'Habitation.

I have also been in contact with my colleague Joanna in France who says the following:

"Nearly everyone I know has had the problem of their Taxe Foncière and Taxe d'Habitation being sent to English addresses... normally a trip to see them in person at the office has sorted it out (especially if you arrange to pay by direct debit).

And completing the requested form should not mean there is no chance to challenge, usually the more info. they have from you the better your chances of getting somewhere."

I'm sorry we cannot be of more help, but we do wish you all the best in attempting to resolve this matter.

Update from previous question...

Thanks, it's all sorted now, what is needed was a calm translator. A friend came with me, we discussed what had happened before we got to the office and she asked the questions that I wanted and it has been sorted. This problem arose basically because of the lack of information and language difficulties. It would be so much better if the French tax authorities did a basic information pack in English.

The first time I went, language was the major problem. I thought they were telling me I had to pay tax for 2007, but I had already been taxed in UK as I was resident there six months of 2007=08 tax year. The lady I spoke to couldn't make me understand what I had to do and sent me away and told me to come back another time. I went back in September 08 and was told I did not need to go back until May 09. This confirmed with what I had read that tax was paid in arrears.

However, if you are retired, to claim habitation, you must register with the tax office your income for the year previously even if you were in UK the previous year. Then they are supposed to give you an orange form to complete. That apparently makes it clear you are a resident - not a letter from the local Mairie. The staff at my tax office do not speak any English and are not comfortable dealing with the English, unless they can speak French. So it is important to get a friend or someone who can translate and ask the questions you want to ask - not one that just flies off and goes on a mission of their own.

I have one form to complete with my bank details which is a DG1 and will return it to them tomorrow and then it is sorted.

Tax in France is probably one of the most important things to get right, and you cannot do it alone unless you are fluent.

8. A question about possible discounts (added 13/8/09)...

I recently registered for paying tax in France and as my income is low I was not due to pay tax this year. I am a widow aged 68 years old, do I get a reduction on my habitation tax please?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. From what you say it does sound as if you should get a reduction in your Taxe d'Habitation, if this property is your main residence (possibly even complete exemption). This should be done automatically by your tax authority when they receive your tax return. If this has not been done then you would need to visit your local Centre d'Impôts to sort it out.

9. A question about income exemption (added 15/10/09)...

Hi there - quite an important question with the fall in the Pound/Euro. I would like to know what the income exemption is for taxe d'habitation as I have only just realised that I may have overpaid for many years, as I did not know t is around 16,000 Euros for one and 23,000 Euros for two. Is this correct and if so how many years can I claim back if at all.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not an expert in tax matters but I understand exemption from paying Taxe d'Habitation may arise if your net income for 2008 was in the region of 10,000 Euros or less for one person, or in the region of 15,000 Euros or less for a couple, as long as you are either over 60 years old, are widowed or disabled and unable to work. You must also not be eligible for wealth tax and this must be your main residence.

If you do not fit into any of these groups, or if your net income was more than this you may be still able to get a reduction in your Taxe d'Habitation. The levels I understand in this case would be approximately 23,000 Euros or less for one person or approximately 33,000 Euros or less for a couple. Eligibility here also assumes you are not living with another family member who has a higher income.

Normally these exemptions are given only if you have submitted a tax return in France, declaring your income, and usually they are also given automatically by the local tax authorities when you submit your tax return.

If this doesn't seem to have been the case for you, I would suggest you contact your local Centre d'impôts to sort it out, or indeed your Mairie who should know all about this and point you in the right direction.

For expert advice and to get accurate tax levels and find out how many years you can claim back, you could also contact a legal advisor:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

I hope this information has been of use.

10. A question about Taxe d'Habitation (added 24/12/09)...

Hi or Bonjour - I am 64 years and my wife is 62 years, we bought a property in France Nov 07, for £44K , it was unhabitable and in need of renovation/restoration. We applied for planning permission etc and this was granted. We received the Tax Fonciere bills for 2008 and 2009 and have paid them, but no bills arrived for the Habitation Tax. This is not our main residence in Europe, we live in the UK, however this French property is the only property we have in France and therefore is it really considered as a second property because this becomes our main home whilst in France? We are on a limited income, my wife has a pension of appx £2500pa and myself having to retire early, I receive £5200pa, so things are getting tight especially with the Pound/Euro going the wrong way and finding that most building material prices have risen by about 25% in the last two years. We have now received some sort of notification about Habitation Tax and that a mistake has been made and we will be receiving basically the bill. This property was vacant for twenty years previously without any fosse septique (we have installed this and had it inspected ) we still have no mains electricity, the work is not complete although we do occupy the premises when we are there. Should we be paying this tax yet or when the work is complete and while have no mains electric?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. From what I understand, property that is being renovated is usually exempt from Taxe d'Habitation if uninhabitable, though I am not entirely sure what the authorities might deem as uninhabitable. As you say you live there when you are in France, this exemption might not apply. There are certainly discounts to be had if on low incomes however, but the problem here is that I understand this to only apply if your house in France is your main residence, and you have submitted a tax return in France.

I would say that this property in France is certainly your second property, if you live for most of the year in the UK. It doesn't matter that it is your only property in France, if you spend most of the year elsewhere.

But as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact your local authorities to check if you would be entitled to any help with the Taxe d'Habitation (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or try your Mairie. It certainly would do no harm.

11. A question about when the bills should arrive (added 29/1/10)...

We bought a home in France in June 2009. It is a second home so we are resident in the UK. So far we have received no bill for either of the two taxes to our French or English address. I know that the notaire should have let the tax authorities know about a change of ownership of the property, so we should be registered. How long should we wait for these bills and who do we contact if we still don't receive something shortly ? 

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As far as I understand it these taxes are paid in arrears, so you will most probably get the bills in October and November this year, 2010. However it might be prudent to check with your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or your Mairie for confirmation of this, as I am no expert in this matter.

12. A question about holiday lets and Taxe d'Habitation (added 16/3/10)...

My wife and I are looking to rent a property in the Languedoc region and we have been asked to pay £195 (Taxe d'Habitation or Taxe Foncière?) for eight days stay by the vendor.

Is this normal? This makes the cost of both taxes approx £9,000. Is this a charge that we just have to accept? I look forward to hearing from you.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am fairly sure that for short term holidays lets, no tax should be paid by the person letting the property (ie:you). The owner would normally pay all taxes. And if you were renting long term, the only tax that you might have to pay is Taxe d'Habitation, which is the lesser of the two taxes.

So I would certainly question the £195, if the owners are saying it is for either of these two taxes, as they should be paying these. You certainly don't have to accept the charge, though I guess they could then refuse to let you the property. (Of course this would not be to their advantage so I would hope this would not happen!)

I wish you all the best with sorting this out.

13. A question about renting and Taxe d'Habitation (added 16/3/10)...

We were renting a flat in Bordeaux for eighteen months and moved out in January 2009. We have just received a demand for Taxe d'Habitation for 2009. Of which we spent two or three weeks. I understand that it is paid by the person in residence in the January.

However, how do we get this back? Who is liable now? This 2500 Euros and I can't be paying this for 3 weeks occupancy? Surely there is some liability on the owner/landlord of the flat. Also, up until receiving today's letter, we received nothing from the Tax Office, this was first we heard about it.

Hope you can help.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am afraid I have a feeling that if you were in residence on 1st January 2009, you may well be liable for the Taxe d'Habitation for the whole year, irrespective of how long you were actually renting the property for that year. I understand that this is the case unless a private agreement is reached between occupiers or people renting the property and the owners of the property.

However, you could certainly query this with the Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre if the bill has come from them, or check with the Mairie. Or perhaps it might be worth contacting the owners of the property to work out if you could reduce this bill somehow.

Bills are usually sent out towards the end of each year and are paid in arrears, so I'm not sure why this has arrived now, unless the owners of the property had an agreement with the property tax office to pay at this time.

14. A question about exemptions from Taxe Fonciere (added 17/08/10)...

I have been told by several people who are the same age as myself, that is, when you reach the age of 65 you do not have to pay Taxe Fonciere. If that is the case, I reached the age of 65 in July 2009, and would like to know why I still paid my Taxe Fonciere for 2009. I am permanent in France, and I do not have any other properties other than the one I live in. I look forward to your reply.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that a reduction in the Taxe Fonciere bill might be available for those French residents over the age of 65, if on low incomes, otherwise exemptions may also be made for those over 75 years old. Income criteria is always looked at. Normally these exemptions or discounts are given only if you have submitted a tax return in France, declaring your income, and usually they are also given automatically by the local tax authorities when you submit your tax return.

If this doesn't seem to have been the case for you, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort it out, or indeed your Mairie who should know all about this and point you in the right direction.

15. A question about differences in tax levels (added 23/11/10)...

Hi - I've been following your threads on Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere with some interest. We have owned a property in a village called Aups in the Var for ten years. We bought it to modify (ramps, hoists, etc) for our severely handicapped daughter, so that we could enjoy family holidays as she grew. Even though we only go for around four weeks per year, we have been paying both property taxes. The house is around 450m2, so is quite big, however we are now paying 3696 Euros in Taxe Fonciere and 3372 Euros in Tax d'Habitation, which seems a bit excessive to me.

About eight years ago, we bought a little village house of 150m2 to use for our daughter's carers when we are in France, to preserve a bit of family privacy. This house only costs us 474 Euros total per year in property taxes. The larger house is 800m outside the village with a garden and the smaller one is right in the middle of the village with no garden.

Do you have any idea why there is such a discrepancy in tax levels?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. And though I cannot give you a definitive answer as to why your taxes are so different for each of your properties, I can think of a few possible reasons:

1. Your main house is considerably bigger that the house in the village.
2. Taxes vary with number of rooms, facilities available, size of garden, so again, your main house will be more expensive, with possibly the modifications for your daughter also affecting the tax bill.
3. Taxes are calculated from the notional rental value of the property, so again, the bigger house's rental value would be considerably more, so the taxes are more.
4. As the smaller property is used for your daughter's carer, this may reduce the tax somehow, as the carer is there for work.

And yes the taxes for your bigger house do seem high, but then you do own property in an affluent area of France, where property costs are high. As I am no expert in these matters however, for accurate advice on this and to check that you are paying the right amounts, I would suggest you contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or indeed ask at your Mairie.

I hope this information will be of some use.

16. A question about a TV Licence (added 28/12/10)...

Hi - I received my Taxe d'Habitation today, in the post (in the UK). For the first time they have added 121.00 Euros for a TV Licence. My house is in the Languedoc and is a Maison Secondaire. I am restoring it, and have no TV or even an aerial or dish on the property. I spend on average about two months per year in the property, as I still live in the UK in Essex. Am I liable to pay this? Many thanks for your help and time.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. With regard to your bill for a TV Licence, I am pretty certain that you would not have to pay this if you do not have a TV at all in France, but you would have to contact your local tax authorities to tell them that you do not have a TV at your property (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre).

17. A question about possible exemptions (added 28/12/10)...

I am an Irish citizen still living in Ireland. I bought a property in Aixe sur vienne in 2004. We have been renovating for four years and it is now finished. We received a Taxe d'Habitation demand for 926 Euros a few days ago. The house is habitable and we spend a maximum of nine weeks there each year. It is not and will not be rented. We do not intend to live in France. I am retired and will be 62 in April. My wife is on disability benefit and is 58. We have no dependents. Are we exempt from any of this tax?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. With regard to your circumstances, I am not sure you would be entitled to any exemption from your Taxe d'Habitation as you are not a French resident and your house in France is not your main residence. However, as I am not an expert in these matters, it may be worth confirming this with your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or your Mairie.

18. A question about paying tax on a house no longer owned (added 4/3/11)...

I wondered if you could help me. I have had a house in France for several years and paid the Taxe d'Habitation each year by prelevement. In January 2009 I sold the house. The furniture was removed several weeks prior to the settlement. I have been having the prelevements taken out of my French bank account for the Taxe d'Habitation all through 2010. When I inquired of friends I was told that I had to pay a year's Taxe d'Habitation even though I didn't own the property anymore and that I then had to reclaim that year's tax back from the new owners!! Is that correct? Also I have received another demand from the tressoir public for 450 Euros for 2010 Taxe d'Habitation. I have ignored this demand. Was that wise? Could you tell me when I can expect to stop paying tax for a house I no longer own.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am afraid I have a feeling that if you owned your house on 1st January 2009, you may well have been liable for the Taxe d'Habitation for the whole year, unless a private agreement was reached between the new owners and yourself on the sale of your property saying otherwise. If you didn't have an agreement in place which is what it sounds like, you can always try and get the money back from them but I don't think they would be under any obligation to refund you. Taxes are paid in arrears, so that is why you would have been paying for this throughout 2010.

However, you certainly should not be getting a bill for 2010. I would query this with the Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre if the bill has come from them and explain your situation, as it seems as if they are not aware that you sold the property. I would not ignore the bill.

19. A question about paying taxes once a person has died (added 4/3/11)...

Hi - my father had lived in SW France for the past eight years, but sadly died last month. I am trying to sort out his estate etc and would like to know whether or not I am liable for the Taxe Fonciere or Taxe d`Habitation on his property? It may well take us several months (or longer) to sell his house and while I have his bill for 2010, do you think I`ll be liable for 2011??

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am so sorry to hear of your father's death.

Unfortunately, if you own a property in France on 1st January of any year which is not rented out, you are liable for both the Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d`Habitation for that full year. However, what you can do is on selling the property, make sure there is an agreement in place between yourself and the new owners (incorporated in the sale and purchase agreement) that they will pay their share of the year's taxes. The notaire should be able to help with this. I would also then make sure the Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre is aware that you no longer own the property, so no further bills will come to you or your father's estate.

I wish you all the best with sorting it all out, and my thoughts are with you at this sad time.

20. A question about the tax rate (added 15/4/11)...

I am the owner of a house in a rural village in the south of France and cannot believe that my taxes are correct but am struggling to obtain clarification from the local tax offices. I currently pay 2314 Euros for Taxe Fonciere and 2495 Euros for Taxe d'Habitation which seems extremely high. Do you have any means by which I can make any comparison. The house is 199 metres square. I have a breakdown of the calculation from the tax office but it is a catalogue of codes which are impossible to understand. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Your taxes do seem high for the size, but I have no idea where you live or what your house is like. And as so many things are taken into consideration by the local property tax offices when working out these taxes, I would not like to guess as to the reasons why they have charged you these amounts.

I can only suggest you go back to them and get them to explain all the codes, or indeed ask at your Mairie as they may well be able to help. I'm sorry not to be able to help further.

21. A question about Taxe d'Habitation (added 22/7/11)...

We are currently trying to sort out whether or not we still have to pay Taxe d'Habitation. My wife is over sixty years of age although I am not yet sixty. With our combined income being less than that stated in your information are we exempt from paying Taxe d'Habitation?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As far as I understand, because your wife is over sixty, and your combined income is less than 15,376 Euros (please note new 2011 limit, values in article were for 2010), you should be exempt from paying the Taxe d'Habitation (including TV licence) as long as the property to which this Taxe d'Habitation refers to is your main residence, you are not eligible for French Weath Tax and you have submitted a tax return in France, declaring your income.

This should be dealt with automatically by the local tax authorities when you submit your tax return. Should you think yourself eligible for exemption and it has not been awarded, you will need to contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort it out.

22. A question about forms in English and rates (added 8/9/11)...

We are finding the Tax Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation very confusing. Are there English versions or translations of these forms. We feel that as we only use this house about six times per year our tax is very high and I have been told there is a new tax coming in where second home owners are going to get clobbered.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Unfortunately these taxes are paid irrespective of how long you occupy the house for in any year, if you do not rent out the property. If you have any queries about your bill, you should contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre).

I'm afraid I am unaware of any English translations of these forms, though you could always try a company which offers all types of assistance to people who have moved to France, or a company offering a translation service. Both such companies can be found from the Service section of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/members.asp

But there may be some good news for you regarding tax on second homes, as there has been a turnaround about this. You might like to read our article "French Tax on Holiday Homes Dropped" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/french-property-sales/french-holiday-home-tax.html).

23. A question about discounts/exemptions (added 8/9/11)...

I wondered if you could clarify whether I am entitled to a reduction/exemption. I am 64. My wife (who was 70) sadly died on 22 January this year (so after the 1st January...). Can I:

a) get a reduction/exemption due to there being only a single owner/occupancy?
b) get an exemption as I am over 60? Should we have been getting this anyway and if so can I claim retrospectively?

I spend several months during the year - am not resident or a taxpayer in France and (once mortgage is offest) am not liable for French Weath Tax.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though I was sorry to hear that your wife passed away. I am also sorry to have to say that I think reductions and exemptions in these taxes only apply to French residents and if the property the taxes relate to is their main residence. It seems neither of these applies to you so I'm afraid I don't think you would get any discount.

However, as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for confirmation of this.

24. Questions about Taxe d'Habitation and letting an apartment (added 8/9/11)...

We let an apt ( bought five years ago) in France for the academic year to students. We pay income tax in France on the French rental income. We also pay Taxe Fonciere. We are unsure about whether or not the students are getting the Taxe d'Habitation bill as we have not had one since 2007. From 2008 we did not receive a bill but my husband got cancer and I was more concerned with that. Happily he is now well again and my habitual worrying has turned to more mundane money matters!

I wonder if the fact that we are were paying income tax on the rental income, persuaded the French tax office that we are not liable. However I doubt the students will have paid and I am wondering if there is a large bill waiting for me somewhere. There is lots of conflicting advice out there. I would be delighted if you could advise me. I have three questions:

1. Is the lease supposed to be registered with the mayor's office so that they know who is resident and therefore liable for the tax?
2. If they (students) are exempt does that mean the landlord is also exempt? We sign Caf forms every year.
3. If they ask for separate contracts (two students sharing a two bedroom apt) does that mean the landlord is subletting and therefore liable for the Taxe d'Habitation?

For the first time I have French students staying this year from September, so I better know the right way! Thanks a million for your advice- it is very difficult trawling through is so much conficting information on the internet.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though as your questions are very specific and I am not an expert in these matters, I'm afraid I cannot be of much help. I would think that if your students were exempt from this tax, then you would not have to pay, as you are not living in the property, but as for your other questions, I would suggest you contact your Mairie and your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to find out the legalities involved here.

You could also contact a legal advisor, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

(Fees are not always charged if the questions asked only warrant a quick and easy reply.)

25. A question about Taxe Fonciere (added 8/9/11)...

I wonder if you could help. I bought a property about eight years ago in the Dordogne with an ex-partner. We split up about five years ago and both moved back to the UK leaving the place empty. It has been on the market for five years without success and for the last three years she has not contributed to any house bills including Taxe Fonciere which is quite expensive £1500/ann) which I have paid. Since the house is deteriorating and losing value every year, I do object to paying this tax. Can you advise what is likely to happen if I stop paying this tax? (Taxe d'Habitation is not paid as we don't live there any more.)

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am sorry to hear of your situation. In the first instance I would suggest you contact your local property tax offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to see if you can obtain an exemption or discount with regard to your Taxe Fonciere, as your property is empty. Certainly with landlords letting property out, if they are unable to and the property is empty, relief is sometimes given. You will probably have to prove that you have been actively trying to sell it for a certain amount of time.

Unfortunately if you just stop paying this tax of your own accord, I would think fines may be levied, and even worse, so I would not suggest you go down that route.

26. A question about tax rates for main and second homes (added 11/10/11)...

We own our house in the Alpes-Maritimes and we live here permanently - have no other property anywhere. We were recently told - in very vague fashion - by other ex-patriates in the region that they were being charged the tax rate for a second home, not a main permanent home. When they queried this, they were switched to a lower rate. It is not clear whether they were referring to Habitation or Foncières. Unfortunately I cannot verify this information, and can find nothing on the subject on-line. Do you know if it is the case that there are different rates for second and main homes? If so, do you know how or where we could check our own rate out?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. The only differences I was aware of between main homes and second homes in France, with regards to the French property taxes (Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation), were that with main homes certain discounts can be given and exemptions made to certain home owners. Though as I am not an expert in these matters, should you have any concerns about your tax rates, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for accurate advice.

An update...

Thanks for your answer. In fact there is no difference with the Taxe Fonciere, but there can, I think depending on where one lives, be some difference in the Taxe d'Habitation - the total charged on a second residence can be more than on a principal residence. Why? No idea!

27. A question about entitlement to discounts and exemptions (added 11/10/11)...

Good Morning - I would appreciate your assistance/clarification on the following please:

Birthdate 1 September 1946

I moved into my sole residence 30 April 2010 in Dept 22 after living in rented for six months and prior to that I was living in my house in the Auvergne and I was registered with Hotel Impot (Dept 03).

On my move I wrote to Hotel Impot (Dept 03) in Montlucon (Auvergne) to inform them that I had bought a house and moved to Dept 22 and would they transfer my papers over to Loudeac. I registered my Tax Form last May 2011 in Loudeac - I made a personal visit.

I paid the previous owner of this house pro-rata Taxes Fonciere and Cideral Rubbish Collection in the Autumn 2010 that covered the period from the time I took the house over (30 April) to the end of the financial year.

I tried to set up a prevalement to cover this last year 2011 to no avail so consequently I had a large bill but that has now been resolved after going to Hotel Impot at Loudeac last week and a prevalement has been organised for the coming year. When I was trying to organise everything etc a prevalement was set up in February 2011 to pay Habitation Tax, and Hotel Impot had sight of my birth certificate and passport to verify my age etc. Upon reading many articles I discover that as I am over 60 years that I am exempt from Taxe d'Habitation and TV Licence etc. but I ask the question - why did I have to pay Taxe d'Habitation and if I have paid in error due to the information given by Hotel Impot am I entitled to have the money returned to me and if so how do I go about it?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand you would be entitled to exemption from Taxe d'Habitation if you are over 60 years old, as long as you would not be eligible for French Wealth Tax and your income is not above certain limits (limits in 2010 were 9,876 Euros for one person and 15,150 Euros for a couple). Reductions such as this are given only if you have submitted a tax return in France, declaring your income. They are usually given automatically by the local tax authorities when you submit your tax return.

As this doesn't seem to have been done in your case, I would suggest you contact your Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre to query this, as they are the only ones who can sort it out.

An update...

Just a little update on the above enquiry I made last month. I am going to be reimbursed my Habitation Tax for the this year 2011, around 540 Euros - should be with me within the next two weeks according to the email received this morning. Thank you for your advice.

I am now going to check on Taxe Fonciere - I know that I have not reached 75 but I am 65 and I receive a Disability Pension from the Military. I do not know what level you have to receive before it is considered. I am also going to write to the Cadaste Hotel Impot and see what they have to say.

28. A question about Taxe d'Habitation (added 8/12/11)...

I sold my French house in July of this year. During the sale there was an agreement with the purchaser for the balance of the Taxe Fonciere. In September I received the Taxe Fonciere demand for 2011 and paid the full amount in the belief that I was liable for the full year of 2011. I have now received a demand for the Taxe d'Habitation, am I liable for this? I thought that I had paid for the year 2011 in advance when I paid the Taxe d'Habitation at the end of last year. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that Taxe d'Habitation is paid in arrears, as is Taxe Fonciere, so I think this bill may be right, as you owned the property on 1st January 2011.

Though for expert advice, I would suggest you contact your local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or try your Mairie.

29. A question about which tax is usually higher (added 8/12/11)...

In your article, which is most helpful, you state "Taxe Foncière is more expensive than the other property tax, Taxe d'Habitation" and yet, having now renovated a barn into a house, I was charged 792 Euros for the Taxe Foncière in October and have just been charged 902 Euros for the Taxe d'Habitation, i.e. not as stated by you.

Are there variances to the rule or is it possible I have been overcharged for the latter or, worse still, undercharged for the former? As I now own a large four bedroom house in almost an acre of land I think both taxes are reasonable but am curious to know your answer.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am unsure as to why your taxes differ to what is normally the case, ie: Taxe'Habitation being less than Taxe Fonciere. I have not heard of this happening before, though there have been increases to both tax rates over the last couple of years, with some areas of France increasing the rates of one tax more than the rates of the other tax, so maybe this has happened in the area where you live. (The tax rates do vary throughout the country.) I can only suggest you ask your local property tax offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or try your Mairie to confirm the amounts are correct.

30. A question about who is liable for the taxes once a house is sold (added 8/12/11)...

Having recently sold my property in France (July 7 2011) with absolutely no problem what so ever, I am still receiving bills for Tax Fonciere and Habitation. I have written to the tax people enclosing a copy of the sale of the house and still payment has been demanded, now with a penalty.Can you please put me in touch with some one to advise and hopefully claim back this rather large amount of money. Thanking you in advance.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that both the above taxes are usually payable in arrears, so as you only sold your property in July this year, I would say the bills, which would have been for the last year, should be payable by you.

However, when property is sold part way through a year, an arrangement is normally put in place at the time of sale, whereby the new owners pay for a proportion of these bills, depending on when they take over the property. It is up to the notaire to arrange for new owners to agree to pay for the portion of the year that they will own the house. But this should have been sorted out when signing all the papers (I think in the final conveyance deed - acte de vente) so you would have been aware that a portion of this bill would be down to you, and a portion down to the new owners, perhaps already paid in the final amount given by them in July. If this wasn't included in the papers you signed and this wasn't discussed or agreed between the vendors and yourself, I would say you unfortunately may well be liable.

However, for expert advice you may wish to contact a legal advisor, perhaps using the following page on our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

And of course your old local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or your old Mairie should be able to explain the ins and outs of your bills, so I would keep pursuing this with them if you are not happy.

31. A question about tax to pay when selling an empty apartment (added 8/12/11)...

I have a question regarding Taxe d'Habitation during the sale of an apartment. The compromis de vente will be signed this week in December and the completion date will be around the 25th of January. The apartment will be empty of all furniture etc on the 1st January 2012. How do I prove its empty to the Tax Office? If I can prove its empty does this mean I don't have to pay the Taxe d'Habitation for 2012? Also what about the Taxe Fonciere? I don't want to by paying any taxes that the new owner should be paying. Thanks for the help.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think as you will own the property on 1st January 2012, you will definitely be liable for the year's Taxe Fonciere. And even if you are not occupying the apartment on the 1st January 2012, the apartment would still be capable of occupation, so you may well be charged for Taxe d'Habitation as well.

However, as I am not an expert in these matters, I would speak to your local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or try your Mairie, as soon as possible, to get them to confirm if you will be liable or not for the property taxes.

And if you are, all is not lost. If you are liable for the taxes, you should bring this to the attention of your notaire, as he/she should then arrange for the new owners to pay for a proportion of these bills, ie: for the portion of the year that they will own the house, which in your case should be the majority of the bill. This is normally sorted out when signing all the papers (in the final conveyance deed - acte de vente). I understand they then pay their amount of the bill when paying for your house in full (on 25th January 2012 or thereabouts), or it might be that an agreement is put in place that they pay when you receive the bill from the local property tax office, later in the year.

32. A question about the tax due on an inhabitable apartment (added 31/1/12)...

Hello - could you tell me if I have to pay Taxe d'Habitation for 2011, although the apartment block where I have my second residence was not habitable for the first couple of months of the year following a fire in December? Entry to the building was forbidden by the Mairie. Many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would certainly speak to your local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or even your Mairie, to check about this. I would think a discount might well be possible, but as your apartment was only inhabitable for a couple of months, I also think that much of the bill will have to be paid.

33. A question about paying tax on an unoccupied property (added 31/1/12)...

Hello. My wife and I purchased a house in Languedoc last year. We do not live in it yet. We thought that we had to pay Taxe d'Habitation. However, your information suggests that since we do not live in the property for many weeks of the year we do not have to pay it. If this is the case, what chances are there to obtain a refund, it's about 800 Euros? Thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. You do not give full details of your property, but I understand that if a property in France is habitable, and is not rented out on a long-term basis, both Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation would have to be paid by the owner. So this is irrespective of how long you occupy the house for in any year. (If it is rented out on a long-term basis Taxe d'Habitation is paid by the tenant, and if rented out on a short-term basis then you may be exempt from Taxe d'Habitation, though you would then be liable for taxes payable on a business.)

If the property is not yet habitable however, ie: not furnished and with no services connected, then I think you may well be able to get a discount or exemption from Taxe d'Habitation. You should contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or Mairie to check this out.

34. A question about students paying Taxe d'Habitation (added 31/1/12)...

For the third year of her UK university course (French) my daughter was an English language assistant in Brittany from September 2010 to April 2011. Her accommodation was in a furnished apartment (one bed). She has just received a Taxe d'Habitation demand - are university students expected to pay this (the bill is for 450 Euros)?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that overseas students in France do normally pay Taxe d'Habitation bills, if they are resident in the property on the 1st January. However, if their income is low, discounts may be available.

In any case, it is always worth querying the bill if you or she are at all uncertain if it is correct, so I would get in touch with her local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for a definitive answer.

35. A question about tax due when renovating property (added 29/3/12)...

Please can you advise. I have been renovating an old building in a village in the Aude (barn conversion). The property is near completion. So far I have not paid any property tax (renovation started in 2007), so will I be liable for the period of construction? Appreciate any advice you can give in this matter.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you would be exempt from paying Taxe d'Habitation if the property has not been habitable during this time, though what each authority deems as habitable does differ.

I also understand that Taxe Fonciere may not be paid when renovating rural properties for a maximum of two years, as long as the relevant tax authorities are notified on completion of the works.

But as I am no expert in these matters and as different local authorities have different rules, for accurate advice I would suggest you contact your local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or try your Mairie.

36. A question about exemption from TV tax (added 7/6/12)...

Are people over 60 years old exempt from TV tax?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. TV tax is part of Taxe d'Habitation, and persons over 60 years of age may be exempt from paying this as long as the property is your main residence, and you are not subject to Wealth Tax. You would be subject to a means test, to see if this might be the case.

For further information and to see if you are exempt, I would suggest you contact your local property tax offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre).

37. A question about how to pay a tax bill with no French bank account (added 7/6/12)...

I lived for one year in France and have to pay this tax but I don't have a French bank account anymore. Is there a way to pay this online using my credit card? Or pay using a cheque? Or wire transfer? If so, can you please point me to the corresponding website?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting. I'm afraid I don't know the answer to this. I would think the best thing to do is to contact your old property tax office in France (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) and ask them how you can pay.

38. A question about claiming property taxes as expenses in the UK (added 7/6/12)...

I have a property in France that I rent out. I pay Fonciere and Habitation tax in France. When I declare the rental income for tax purposes in the UK can I put these down as expenses?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Though I am afraid I do not know the answer to your question. I would think you could put these down as expenses, but as I am no expert in such matters, I would suggest you contact a tax specialist.

39. A question about property tax on a house purchase (added 13/6/12)...

I purchased a property in Aquitaine which was finalised in October 2010. This year we had to pay the taxes for 2010 to 2011. Am I right in thinking that we should only be responsible for the tax from October and the previous owner should pay for January to September? Thank you for your assistance.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand you would be responsible for Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation for your property for any year where you owned it on the 1st January that year. So you would not be responsible for the taxes for the year 2010, as you did not own the property on 1st January that year. This is unless you signed an agreement when purchasing the house that you would pay a portion of the taxes for the year 2010. You would then either have paid this when paying for your property in full, or arranged that you pay through the local property tax office.

If you have any queries regarding your bills though, I would suggest you contact your local property tax offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) and ask them.

40. A question about TV licences (added 31/7/12)...

I own a holiday cottage in Brittany. I am 77 years old. Do I still have to pay for a TV licence?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As you own a holiday cottage in Brittany I assume you do not live in France full-time and do not submit tax returns in France, so I would think you do have to pay for a TV Licence. However, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to get confirmation of this. There may be exemptions for you, though I understood you had to be a resident of France to get them and for the property to be your main residence.

41. A question about possible reductions in Taxe Fonciere (added 31/7/12)...

I am 78 and my husband is 85. This is our only residence. We will not be liable for income tax this year. Should we get a reduction on the Taxe Fonciere?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that you should be getting a reduction in your property tax if you are over 75, the property is your main residence, and you are on a low income, as long as you have submitted a tax return in France. If you have not received this, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort it out.

42. A question about Taxe Fonciere and new build property (added 31/7/12)...

Hello, I have a question about Taxe Fonciere. We bought a small apartment in Collioure off-plan, taking possession in February 2010. We were told numerous times that we would not be liable for Taxe Fonciere for two years as our apartment was a new-build. However, it seems this was not correct and we had to pay a bill of 352 Euros in October 2011. We received the explanation that Fonciere is at the discretion of the Mairie and we had to pay a proportion of the tax for 2011. Could you please tell me if this information was correct?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I was under the impression that most new builds are exempt from property taxes for two years, though you would have to apply for this. However, rules and regulations change regularly and are not consistent throughout France, so I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to query this bill.

43. Question about back taxes (added 31/7/12)...

After more than 20 years of searching (and largely thanks to Google Earth!) we have finally identified and located the house in the Languedoc left to me by my mother who died in 1990 (having left no documentation concerning the property - only the keys). The house has stood empty for over 25 years, and, judging by the photos taken by a local estate agent for us, it is in an extremely poor state. We have engaged the services of a local Notaire to sort out the succession. He has asked if any property taxes have been paid. So, I was wondering where we would stand on our liability for back taxes - are we going to owe more than 20 years of tax?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Both my colleague Joanna and I are unsure about this, so I would suggest you contact a legal advisor to find out. It would be good to have another source of information in addition to your notaire as they do work basically as government tax collectors. Perhaps you can use the page from our site mentioned above? The link is:

French Legal Services and Solicitors

44. A question about Taxe Fonciere on an uninhabitable property (added 29/8/12)...

I have a house in the Aude. It has no electric, water drains etc. It has no windows or stairs and is uninhabitable. Do I have to pay Taxe Foncière on the property?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that if a property is not habitable, then I think you may well be able to get a discount or exemption from Taxe d'Habitation. Though what is deemed as habitable varies with different tax offices. I would think you would have to pay Taxe Fonciere, if the property is not a new build and more than two years old. You should contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or Mairie to check this out.

45. A question about demands for Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation (added 29/8/12)...

We sold our French property last year, did not realise we would be liable for fonciere/habitation for that year. We have now had a letter from our French bank stating the local tresor has tried to obtain this money from our account which we do not have. What steps can the tresor take to obtain this money?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you get in touch with your local authorities (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) about this, or perhaps even a legal advisor, as I am uncertain as to what they can do about getting the money without your agreement.

46. A question about exemptions and costs (added 29/8/12)...

My friend and I both collect disability. She is from Canada. I am from the USA. We want to reside in France together. Would we be exempt from "the living tax" as we both collect around $900 a month? Or would our income be combined, and we would be charged on that? Do you have an estimate of how much we would pay? It is a big decision in deciding if we can afford to live in France, which is both of our dreams. Any advice would be helpful and greatly appreciated.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. If you both will be owning the property in France and living in it together, your income may be combined and you may be charged on that. I would suggest you contact the French Embassy where you live, to find out what the costs for Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation may be like, as I am not sure of the implications, if any, of you not being from the EU. Or you could try a local council office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) in France if you have an idea of where you will be based. It can be very difficult to put a figure on these taxes however, as they can vary throughout France, and with types of property.

47. A question about liability for property tax bills (added 4/10/12)...

Hello - I'm writing on behalf of my father and would appreciate any advice from anyone who's reading this message, many thanks. We are a family of five and own a two bedroom flat in Paris. Unfortunately my father is planning to get a divorce from my mother, and wants to sell the appartment as he's finding it difficult to continue paying for the taxes, bills etc. Myself, my brother and sister are agreeing to sell it as we have no intentions to pay when dad gets divorced. The problem is my mother is refusing to sell. it. Can we remove our names from the property easily if we can't get my mother to sell it, as we dont want to pay the bills for the apartment or be responible for it and leave everything up to her? Sorry for this long message, hope there's some way out of this mess.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid I can only suggest you contact a legal or tax advisor about this, as I am not an expert in these matters. Perhaps you could use the following which is mentioned on our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors
http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

48. A question about ongoing property tax bills and fines (added 4/10/12)...

I had to leave France in a hurry eighteen months ago when my son fell ill. In doing so I failed to sort out my Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation, and ended up finding my French bank ripping horrendous charges out of my account to pay - well I'm not sure who, because I haven't got any paperwork nor seen any judgements. They now take (quite legally apparently) money monthly in order to pay a "fine". I'm stuck in the UK, unemployed, trying to make ends meet and look after my son and I'm at a loss what to do. It seems that the French just want to rip people off at any excuse - and yes, I know I should have sorted out my affairs before leaving but had no time under the circumstances. And don't get me started on EDF and their "estimated" bills charging hundreds of Euros a month on an empty property, then cancelling the account when you refuse to be ripped off by them. I'm at my wits end with this and would really appreciate some advice.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, and I have to say, I do feel for you in your situation. I assume you've tried to contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) and your French bank about this matter, to explain the situation? If not, it is always worth a try. I have been in contact with my colleague Joanna who says:

"French authorities are very intransigent about these things. There is supposed to be an organisation you can turn to when you really can't pay your bills, but I'm not sure who it is though. Perhaps you could ask the Mairie where you used to live. Meanwhile it may be possible to close the bank account in France and inform the authorities concerned that you've returned to the UK. Acknowledge that you will owe them something and request bills to be sent to the UK address. It is best to deal with them as and when you can."

I'm sorry we cannot be of more help.

49. A question concerning a possible reduction in tax (added 4/10/12)..

Hi, I have brought my Mum back from France (Dordogne) due to Mental Health. Both her Taxe d'habitation & Taxe Fonciere and other bills are around £2000 per month. We dont want to empty the house to stop the tax and we want to use it whilst it is for sale, but is there anything we can do to reduce these taxes? She also pays tax in the uk from her pension, so should she pay all this tax? Thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact your Mum's local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or even her Mairie, to find out whether she can get any reduction in her Taxe Fonciere or Taxe d'Habitation. I am not sure she would though.

Also, as I am not an expert in these matters, I would also suggest you contact a legal or tax advisor, for accurate up to date advice on her taxes in general.

50. A question about property tax bills (added 4/10/12)...

Am I right in presuming that even though there are two legal owners of the property only one taxe fonciere and one taxe d'habitation is paid annually?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I think you are right in what you say, though I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for confirmation of this.

51. A question about overpayment of tax (added 27/11/12 )...

We have recently had our property re-assessed by the local tax office in Normandy. We have been over taxed for ten years. Is it possible to claim any back tax from the local tax office or is it too late to claim now?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you might not be able to claim for all the time you have been over taxed, but may well be able to get some back. I would contact your local tax office anyway, to see what your options are and if you can get some sort of refund.

Further update...

Thanks. It is very difficult to understand the French tax system. We have only been able to get this far due to our French neighbour helping out. Our neighbours have a beautiful renovated house which is much bigger than our renovation project yet pay less tax than us. We have more outbuildings and unfinished parts of the house (a longere) I guess is the difference. We still don't really understand the calculations. The tax office have also have used a form H1 to re-assess our taxable area but we thought the H1 form was for completed projects and our house is not yet finished.

52. A question about when property taxes are paid (added 27/11/12)...

Is Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation paid in advance? Eg: paid in November etc for the following twelve months. If we leave France during this period, do we get a rebate?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I was under the impression that these taxes were paid in arrears, but I would contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for confirmation of this.

53. A question about extortionate property tax rates (added 27/11/12)...

We spend six months per year in our house in the Aude which we have owned since 1976 and which we completely renovated between 2004 and 2011. We have four bedrooms, two with bathrooms en suite plus a third, family bathroom, a salon, a dining room, a kitchen, a utility room and a remise. We have 164 square metres of surface habitable and our property taxes have been officially reassessed on completion of the works. The house is in a small quasi-remote village of 100 inhabitants, many of whom are either viticulteurs or retired viticulteurs so pay reduced property taxes themselves but as members of the conseil municipale they set high base rates for local taxes for everyone else. Our Taxe d'Habitation alone is almost 2700 (including 300 for the remise). Other inhabitants also feel they pay too much. For example a retired couple from Paris are alarmed that they pay more here in taxes than they paid in Paris. We pay more in a country village with few services than we do on a five bedroom house in a prosperous city in the south of England. Do you have any advice as to how we can challenge the size of our local tax bills? At this rate, we won't be able to afford to live here in our approaching retirement.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Other than taking this up with your local tax office, your Mairie and your local government figures, I am not sure what to suggest. My colleague Joanna says:

"All I can say here is I sympathise and wish you luck. Taking on the French authorities is a brave move, better left to the French I think. But I applaud you if you try. My only advice would be not to get involved in legal battles. You never win. Also it would be worth seeing if there are any loopholes you can exploit, like retirement, sickness benefit, age related exemptions etc. That's what the French do."

I am sorry not to be of more help.

An update...

Many thanks for your reply. I will take this matter up with the village council. I have already had to question a previous outlandish habitation and foncieres bill - and won. I had to do that one alone, but this time I will rally my neighbours to join me. It is really quite daft that I am paying double the amount of local taxes in the middle of the countryside with few amenities in France, than I do in a prosperous city with full amenities in Britain. I'll let you know how I get on - it may take some time!

54. A question about renovating properties and Taxe Fonciere (added 27/11/12)...

We purchased an old farm property in 2001 and imediately starting paying Taxe Fonciere on the farmhouse which was habitable. We also at this time started conversion of one of the barns. Up to 2007 we regularly submitted the H1 form to advise of progress and we did not pay Fonciere on the barn up to this point. In 2008 the Taxe Fociere doubled. We payed this until last year when we sent in a new H1 form advising that the barn was not yet complete and giving a completion date of 2014. This year the Taxe has reduced but the barn is still incomplete and has only some doors and windows, no taps or working sanitation. When does a building become liable to pay Taxe Fonciere? Is it when secure i.e full locks and doors or when "Habitable"? Also, can we claim a rebate for the years 2008 - 2011 when we paid the extra tax and if so, who do we contact?.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understood that Taxe Fonciere is paid whether a building is habitable or not, it is Taxe d'Habitation which varies according to whether a building can be lived in or not. However, discounts/exemptions with Taxe Fonciere are given on new buildings, additions to existing buildings, and rural conversions, for up to two years, as long as the work is declared to the authorities within 90 days of completion. Renovations and improvements to property also affect Taxe Fonciere, with a re-evaluation of property needed. However I am unsure as to whether the work on your barn would be classed as a new building, or a renovation/improvement to property. The rules seem to vary between region, tax authority and type of property.

So rather than cause confusion, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to get clarification of the tax you are paying. And you could also ask whether any refund is due.

55. A question about whether a property is habitable or not (added 27/11/12)...

In the payment of Taxe d'Habitation, who decides if the property is habitable or not. I am in the process of renovating the property and have not been able to live there since I purchased it in Apr 2011. In my opinion, it is still not yet habitable.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understood that a property is not habitable if it is not furnished and has no services connected. But you should contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or Mairie to check this out.

56. Some questions about leaseback property and Taxe d'Habitation (added 27/11/12)...

I own a leaseback property in Corsica & have just received the first demand for Taxe d'Habitation.

1) Is this correct, if not how do I change it?
2) I'm 59 years old & live on a disablement pension & so may qualify for some reduction on the grounds of low income. How do I go about claiming this?
3) Are the references bancaires for paying this the same as for taxes foncieres?
4) I'm considering selling anyway, what's the best way to do this?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. For all queries about your Taxe d'Habitation I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to get clarification of the tax, and to see whether you can claim a reduction. However, I understood the property that the tax relates to had to be your main residence, in order for you to be eligible for any reduction, and if this is a leaseback property, I assume you only live there a few weeks a year. However, you may be able to get an exemption if you rent your property out as a furnished letting for much of the year, though you then may be liable for business rates.

If you are considering selling your leaseback property, as I am not aware of how long you have owned your property for I would suggest you contact your developer or letting agent in the first instance. (And if you haven't read our article "Leaseback Property in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/leaseback.html), it may be worth doing so.)

57. A question about empty properties and Taxe d'Habitation...

We were renting a house and the lease finished on the 5th January 2012. All furniture was removed from the property on 16th December 2011 and indeed the inventory check was done on before Christmas and the keys returned to the letting agency on Thursday 23 December. Are we still liable for the Taxe d'Habition? I understood from the invoice it was a tax on furnished properties fit for habitation? Grateful for some clarification on this!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understood that Taxe d'Habitation would have to be paid by a tenant if resident in a property on the 1st January in any year, for that year, unless a property is deemed uninhabitable ie: not furnished and with no services connected. As you were not resident, and the property was not furnished on 1st January, I would think you may not have to pay the tax, but as I am no expert in these matters I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to get confirmation of this.

58. A question about renting property and Taxe d'Habitation (added 27/11/12)...

We own a house in the Charente and pay both Taxe D'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere. My husband works in Paris during the week and rents an apartment. Are we liable for the Taxe d'Habitation on this apartment? Thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I believe you would be liable for Taxe d'Habitation on the apartment in Paris, if you are renting it on the 1st January in any year.

59. A question about property taxes on holiday lets (added 27/11/12)...

We own a holiday home in France which we rent out as a holiday let and declare the income on it. We have been charged Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere for the past three years. This year we have also had a bill for cotisation fonciere des enterprises or business rates. Surely we cannot be charged residential and business rates?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I was under the impression that you, as owners of the property, would pay your Taxe Fonciere whatever, but that if you are paying business rates you would not have to pay Taxe d'Habitation. So I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort it out.

60. A question about a property taxes on homes that are empty and up for sale (added 27/11/12)...

We have a house in France but no longer live in it. We put it up for sale and moved back to Australia five years ago. Can we get out of theses taxes? And what would happen if we don't pay them?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact your local property tax offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to see if you can obtain an exemption or discount with regard to your Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation, as your property is empty. Certainly with landlords letting property out, if they are unable to and the property is empty, relief is sometimes given. You will probably have to prove that you have been actively trying to sell it for a certain amount of time.

Unfortunately if you just stop paying these taxes of your own accord, I would think fines may be levied, and even worse, so I would not suggest you go down that route.

61. A question about how to pay bills with no French bank account (added 24/1/13)...

I sold my apartment in March 2012. I subsequently closed my bank accounts in France as I had long before left the country. I now have the Taxe Fonciere and d'habitation bills to pay at the end of 2012. I understand that it is my responsibility to pay these and I am happy to do this, however when I contacted the number on the bill they told me that the only way to pay is from a French Bank account. Do you have any suggestions on how I could pay this bill from Australia?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though I find it hard to believe you need your own French bank account to pay your bills. I would have thought that surely you can pay on-line to a French bank account which specifically accepts Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation payments, from other accounts. Indeed, I've just had a quick look on-line and have noticed the following suggestions referring to this issue, that might help you:

1. "I e-mailed my local Centre des Finances Publique, whose contact e-mail address for additional payment information was on the back of the form, requesting the relevant account details. Next day I received an e-mailed response detailing the relevant IBAN and BIC codes and I've been able to very conveniently make payment online. There's no need to maintain a French bank account for such payments."

2. Another says to look at the government website (impots.gouv.fr). They say you will need the "Numero Fiscal" number and "Reference de l'avis" number which can be found on the front of your demand.

Should you not have any luck, I would contact your old property tax office in France (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) again (assuming this is who you have already called) and pursue the matter with them. Or perhaps contact your old Mairie to see what you can do?

I'm sorry not to be of more help.

62. A question about who is liable for Taxe Fonciere once a property is sold (added 24/1/13)...

I sold my French property in February 2012. The Notaires told me that I would have to pay the Taxe d'habitation when I received it in October 2012 as I owned the property on 1st January 2012, but not the Taxe Fonciere. I have paid the Taxe d'habitation.

When I received the Taxe Fonciere bill I sent it back telling them that I had sold my property in February 2012 and referred them to the new owner who is French. They have now sent me a long letter saying that I have to pay it and reclaim money from the new owner. That is ridiculous as I have no hope of getting it from the new owner.

I no longer have a French bank account. I am extremely annoyed about this. My question is do I have to pay the Taxe Fonciere? I feel that I have been mislead about all this.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Our answer to Question 2 above should help you with this. Here a visitor to the site is asking a similar thing, but from the other point of view, ie: being the buyer of the property.

So what I have said here is that I understand that in most cases where a property is sold, it is up to the Notaire to arrange for new owners to agree to pay for the portion of the year that they will own the house. But this should have been sorted out when signing all the papers (I think in the final conveyance deed - acte de vente). If this wasn't included in the papers you signed and this wasn't discussed or agreed between the buyers and yourself, I would say you might have to pay the bill. (Unless of course you can persuade the new owners to pay.)

However, as I am no legal expert, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor for clarification of this, perhaps using the following page of our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors - http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

(If the questions asked are not too involved, fees are not always charged.)

63. A question about Taxe Fonciere being paid by the buyer of a property (added 28/2/13)...

We've recently sold one property and purchased another in France. The final statement from the Notaire does not show the refunded Taxe Fonciere monthly service charge rebate that our purchaser made payable to the Notaire's firm rather than directly to us. We have asked the Notaire's office to clarify this but the reply has been "it was put in your account towards your purchase". We have asked them to itemise these amounts and to show them in our statement, but so far they have ignored our request. Is this normal practice or should we pursue this further?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am a little unclear as to whether you have received this money or not. But if you have, and the Notaire has put it towards paying bills on your new property, I would not think this is a bad thing. You will be liable for Taxe Fonciere bills on your new property. But I would certainly get clarification of this if you are at all unsure.

64. A question about paying tax bills having left France, with no money (added 28/2/13)...

My friend lived (renting) and worked in France for about a year on a short-term work contract. He's now back in the UK permanently, he has closed his French bank account and has severed all links with France. He's just received a bill for the Taxe d'Habitation to his UK address. But he is unemployed and is on Jobseeker's Allowance, so cannot afford to pay it. If he doesn't pay it at all (even after the reminder with the 10% added) what will happen? Is it correct that there is nothing the French authorities can do about it? Or if there is something they can exercise to reclaim it, is there any way he can get exemption or delay in paying because he is unemployed? He'd pay it if he had he money, but he doesn't!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid that the French authorities may well have a right to reclaim this tax, if it is owed by your friend. However, I would suggest he contacts his old local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) in France, or whoever has sent the bill, to explain the situation he is in, as they may well be able to work something out between them. I would not advise leaving the bill unpaid.

65. A question about banks sequestering money for taxes (added 25/3/13)...

I have a house in Northern France and this year have been prevented by work from visiting to pay my town taxes in cash as I normally do (because the Tresorerie won't allow the use of an English card). Without any prior warning my French bank notified me that the town had sequestered the money for taxes out of my account directly! Has anyone else met this bureaucratic theft?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna, who used to live in France, says that unfortunately this is all too common.

66. A question about Taxe d'Habitation on French second / holiday homes (added 31/5/13)

I am about to buy an apartment in Nice (France) to go there for vacations (approximately for one month per year). I am not a French citizen and have my job and residence in an European country different from France. The following I do not understand: why will I have to pay on that apartment both Taxe Fonciere and d'Habitation, when a French citizen only pays the Taxe Fonciere on his/her "vacant" (second) houses. According to the definition, the Taxe d'Habitation must be payed by whoever "occupies" the property. But what does it mean to "occupy"? As in my case I own it but do not live in it. Why would the word "occupy" have two different meanings depending on whether I am French citizen or not? Thanks very much for your attention.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I was not aware French residents do not pay Taxe d'Habitation on second homes in France, and cannot find confirmation of this. Certainly they may not pay this tax if the property is rented out for some of the time, but then they would pay business rates.

The word "occupies" can be confusing to all concerned. It would seem that perhaps the words "right of occupation" may be better. So my understanding is that as long as property is habitable, then the person who has the right of occupation on the 1st of January is liable to pay the full amount of Taxe d'Habitation for that year, even if they might not be physically resident there at that time. This is also irrespective of how long they may physically be resident there throughout the year. This applies to main residences and second homes, though discounts/exemptions may apply to main residences.

As I am no expert in these matters, however, I would suggest you contact the Mairie in Nice and your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to find out the legalities involved here.

You could also contact a legal advisor, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

(Fees are not always charged if the questions asked only warrant a quick and easy reply.)

67. A question about a Taxe Fonciere bill for a property no longer owned (added 31/5/13)...

We had a flat which we sold after four years, we have not owned it for two years. Last month we received a Taxe Fonciere bill sent to our home, which we did not live in when we sold the flat, in the UK. This bill applies to a period when we no longer owned the flat. Can we ignore this bill , and if we do will there be any difficulties in doing so if we return to France for a holiday later on?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact your old local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) in France, or whoever has sent the bill, to explain your situation, and let them know you did not own the flat for the period you were charged for. (Though bear in mind, if you owned the flat on the 1st of January of a particular year, you would be liable for the Taxe Fonciere for the whole of that year, even if it was sold during that period.) You also need to make sure you are not charged again in the future. I would not advise ignoring the bill.

68. A question about who is liable for bills (added 25/7/13)...

We completed the Acte de Vente on a property on 22/4/2009 and the monies settled included pro rate for 2008 charges. We completed on our new property on 13/7/2010 and again relevant pro rate charges. We are suddenly now being chased for both taxes for 2009 - invoiced 31/8/2009 and 31/10/2009. - a total of nearly 2000! What is our liability if any please?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am a bit confused as to which taxes you are being charged for, for which properties in 2009. I assume it is just the property you sold that you are referring to. I would say that you would have been liable for both taxes for this property as you owned the property on January 1st 2009, unless you had an arrangement with the purchaser that they pay for the months of 2009 they would own the property. Maybe this is what you mean when you say "pro rate for 2008 charges". (The property taxes for 2008 I would have thought should have been entirely paid by you.) The bills in 2009 should have been worked out at a pro rata rate, and the monies settled accordingly when selling the house. The bill would still come to you (billed in arrears), but you should have been reimbursed by the purchaser of your property prior to this. Any further bills should then go to the new owners. Maybe there was confusion over the pro rata rate, which you thought was for 2008 but was for 2009?

With your new property, you shouldn't have to pay for either taxes for 2009, just for part of 2010.

As I am no expert in these matters, however, I would suggest you contact the relevant property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre), if you are still not happy with the bills.

69. A question about getting copies of old property tax bills (added 25/7/13)...

We need a copy of Taxe Fonciere for 2012 for the Notaire as we have accepted an offer on our property. We are now back in the UK and unfortunately only have copies of 2011 and 2010. I have very little French so cannot understand the Taxe Fonciere site! How can we get a copy?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Do you not have contact details of your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) on your bills for 2011/2010? I would think you will need to contact them to get a copy for 2012, and they may have someone who speaks English there. You could also try your Mairie. Otherwise you can perhaps use a company which provides help with such things for people living in France, such as Help in France. You can find such companies listed in various sections of our Business Directory.

70. A question about high taxes being charged for no service (added 19/9/13)...

We live in a small village Called St-Barth. We live on a private street, and the small municipality where we live has asked us to pay 2000 Euros a year for our home in taxes. That is just for our home and without any service. We have our own water well and have to have our own septic tank that we have to get emptied every two years at the cost of 189 Euros. We take care and fix things on our street and in the winter pay someone to open our street so we can get out to go to work. There are six houses on our street and we all have to do the same thing. Can you help us here? Is this normal for us to pay such high taxes without any services from our municipality? Or is there a number to call for information?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna, who used to live in France says:

"I think this is common. We paid high taxes, Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'habitation, for our property which was rural with no mains drainage etc, but water is billed separately. This is usually on a meter so if you use only well water you should pay very little water other than a standing charge."

And in answer to a similar previous question above, I have said:

"Other than taking this up with your local tax office, your Mairie and your local government figures, I am not sure what to suggest."

With Joanna saying:

"All I can say here is I sympathise and wish you luck. Taking on the French authorities is a brave move, better left to the French I think. But I applaud you if you try. My only advice would be not to get involved in legal battles. You never win. Also it would be worth seeing if there are any loopholes you can exploit, like retirement, sickness benefit, age related exemptions etc. That's what the French do."

71. Questions about a property made up of two apartments (added 19/9/13)...

In June this year I purchased a property that was split into two apartments (with adjoining doorway). The lady that used to live there lived in one apartment and the other was empty. I have since completely renovated both apartments and plan to rent both out. I understand that I am liable for the Taxe Fonciere, but do I have to declare that they are now completely two separate apartments? If so who do I declare this to? Also, Once rented on long term leases, how do I know how to split the Taxe d'Habitation? I assume it will come through as a fee for one building again? Many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you do need to declare the work you have done on your property, and this would be to your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre). And if they are now two separate apartments, I would think the bills for each apartment may well come separately, both for Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation. Your local property tax office or possibly Mairie should be able to confirm this, or let you know if you need to split the Taxe d'Habitation.

72. A question about possible discounts/exemptions (added 7/11/13)...

Can you please help with the following: My father is resident in France. He has lived in France for 28 years and always does a French Tax Return so they have all his details. He is now 91 years old and is now living alone in the house. My mother died 2 years ago. His pension is no more than a total of around 13,000 Euros per year as my mother's pensions died with her. My father has just received the Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere and seems to be paying the full amount for each. There are no reductions or discounts mentioned. Surely he should be getting some reduction because of his circumstances? Your advice would be welcomed. Many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not sure if your father should be getting a discount on his Taxe Fonciere as the income limit in 2013 (based on figures from 2012) is 10,224 Euros. If he has an income above this, which he seems to have, then no discount/exemption may be due. He may have more of a chance of getting a discount on his Taxe d'Habitation, as discounts may be given, based on further income limits (24,043 Euros for a single person in 2013, based on figures from 2012).

It is always worth checking, so I would suggest you contact his local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to get confirmation/clarification for both taxes.

73. A question about claiming back fees for rubbish collection (added 7/11/13)...

I have recently been hit by back Taxe Fonciere for property I rent out. I understand that the lodger should be liable for the rubbish collection element, and that I can claim it back "taxe d'enlevement des ordures menageres" which is approximately 21% of the bill. Can you confirm this is correct, and how exactly do I claim it back?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I understood that this rubbish collection bill (taxe d'enlèvement des ordures ménagères or TEOM) comes with the Taxe Fonciere bill, and is paid by the owner of the property. If you as the owner wanted your lodger to pay for this, you would have to get it from him/her, rather than claiming it back from the tax office. So usually there is some arrangement in the rental agreement, to that effect. As I am no expert in these matters however, I would get confirmation/clarification from your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre).

An update...

Thanks for your swift reply, I understand that under article 23 de loi du 6 Juilet 1989 (it is written on the back of the avis d'imposition), I can claim the money back. Is this correct?

Should anyone reading this be able to confirm the above or help further, please do get in touch.

74. A quesiton about paying property tax bills with no French bank account (added 10/12/13)...

How do I pay the Taxe fronciere and Taxe d'habitation if I do not have a French bank account? Can I pay online with a UK credit/debit card?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. Please see our answer to question 61, above.

75. A question about a possible change in tax with an increase in pension (added 10/12/13)...

I wonder if you could help. I live with my wife in France. Our only income is my local goverment pension which is taxed in the UK (18,000 Euros net). Each year we fill in our tax forms and pay Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'habitation taxes (based on my pension). Could you tell me if we will pay additional French tax when my wife and I receive our old age pension from the UK (tax paid in the UK)? Our joint income will then be approx 26,000 Euros net.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I am unsure as to whether you are asking if you will pay additional Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation, when your income increases, or whether you are asking about any other tax you might have to pay. If it is the former, I would think that as your joint income will still be within the income limit, you may still get a discount, so your property tax bills should remain similar. But as I am no expert in tax matters, for confirmation of this and for other tax advice, I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) and/or the following, who have supplied our site with many articles on tax:

Virginie Deflassieux or Catherine Le Pelley at french.tax@bdo.gg or telephone +44 1481 727927.

76. Questions about whether a tenant pays for a TV Licence and/or property tax (added 10/12/13)...

Hi - I own a house near Montpon Menesterol and have rented the property out since June 2013. I have received an invoice today, November 2013 from Taxe D' Habitation and A L'audiovisuel, which I guess is TV licence. We never had a TV and only installed the TV at the end of May for the tenant as they didn't have a TV. Do we have to pay for the TV licence or is the tenant responsible, and do we have to pay the full amount of Taxe Habitation from January 2013 to December or again is the tenant responsible from June - December. Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand the person who has the right of occupation in a property on the 1st of January of any year is liable to pay the full amount of Taxe d'Habitation for that year, even if they might not be physically resident there at that time. This is also irrespective of how long they may physically be resident there throughout the year. If a property is let mid-way through the year, I understood some sort of agreement is usually set up so that the tenant agrees to pay the owner for the portion of the year that he is resident, with the following year's Taxe d'Habitation being taken over by the tenant, assuming it is a long-term let. (Though if this hasn't happened, it is always worth asking the tenant for his share.)

And if you only installed the TV mid-way through the year, perhaps you may be able to get some sort of discount.

Regarding both issues, I would suggest you perhaps contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to find out exactly what you need to do to sort this bill out. Your Mairie may also be able to help.

77. A question about getting a duplicate bill (added 10/12/13)...

We have just sold our house in France, but must pay the Taxe d'Habitation for 2013. Unfortunately I seem to have mislaid the bill I received a couple of weeks ago and can't find it anywhere. I've tried to find it online so I can pay, but can't get anywhere without the bill number, which obviously I don't have. How can I get a duplicate bill so I can pay it?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you need to contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to find out your bill number and/or get another bill sent. You could also try the Mairie.

78. A question about getting Taxe d'Habitation back from tenants (added 26/3/14)...

We are non French residents and have an apartment in Nice which is rented out. Last year, three Italian girls rented it for September to May. We paid the Taxe d'Habitation in November to ensure that it got there on time. We are now trying to retrieve the money from the Italian girls, who had promised to pay it, and they are not forthcoming. What can we do?

Our reply...

I am afraid that unless you set up an agreement with the girls, which they signed (usually part of the rental agreement), you may not be able to get this from them unless they have a change of heart. Although as I am no expert in these matters, it may be worth contacting a legal advisor to see if there is anything you can do.

79. A question about who to contact about missed payment dates (added 26/3/14)...

Hi - I own a property in Morzine and did not receive the Taxe d'Habitation bill in Dec 13 for this year 14. I have now received a reminder with an extra 10% added as I missed the payment date. I have never missed a payment for my taxes until now. Could you advise me on who I can contact to ask for this 10% be wavered (if possible)? Any advice would be much appreciated.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you need to contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to sort this out, or perhaps your Mairie could advise.

80. Another question about re-dress for penalties imposed for missed payments (added 26/3/14)...

I have my main property in England and a second property in the south of France which I acquired in 2011. I spend three months a year on the Cote d'Azur. I received no notification that my Taxe d'Habitation was due at either my French or English address. I did, however, receive a second demand with penalty interest at my English address which I then paid (somewhat irritated). My efforts to set up a prelevement automatique were rebuffed as it was not being established prior to the tax year. The same thing has happened again with no notification being received until the second demand. (Irritation level higher). I have now set up a prelevement automatique.

The French bureaucracy has a penchant for sending out mail by registered post which unless signed for on delivery by the recipient or collected within a very short period of time is destroyed. Do you think that in each of the above cases the original document was sent to my French address and because I was not there was destroyed with the back up going to my English address only when payment had not been received? (More money for the State Coffers.) Your thoughts would be appreciated as I doubt whether I am the first person to whom this has happened. Is there any redress?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I do not think you are alone in your situation, not receiving bills and then receiving a second bill with a "fee" charged for non-payment. As mentioned above, I think you would have to contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) for any re-dress on this. You could also try your Mairie. Good luck with your endeavours.

An update...

We have made progress. The Direction Generale de Finances Publiques in Cannes has agreed to waive the latest penalty tax as because the original document was not sent to our main residence in London and we would, therefore, not know the payment was overdue. I think their generosity was because we had now set up a monthly direct debit to pay both the Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d'Habitation from now on. Hopefully the payment for last year's outstanding amount will not run into difficulties as we have sent it by registered post, for obvious reasons, notwithstanding the fact that the envelope stipulates that it should not be sent that way!

My wife is French but has lived in the UK since 24 years of age. She despairs at the bureaucracy because she has been away so long and I speak French fluently. My heart goes out to non French speakers wrestling for the first time with the system. That said France is a wonderful place to live and the quality of life is better than the UK.

81. A question about who to advise when changing UK addresses (added 26/3/14)...

I have a weekend retreat in the Normandy area and have all the Taxe d'Habitation etc bills sent to my UK address. Can you tell me who I have to contact to advise them I have changed my uk address?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think you would need to contact your local property tax office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) in France to get your address changed.

82. A question about forms to be filled out (added 7/5/14)...

We are selling our home in France. We will be renting a property in England. My husband has always worked in England and payed tax there, and we've always filled out the avis d'impot, along with the pink 2047k form to declare income. Whilst we stlll own a house here even though going back to England, will we still have to fill out this form?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think that if you are not going to be living in France permanently, you would not need to, but as I am no expert in these matters I would suggest you contact a tax advisor about this.

83. A question about a Taxe dHabitation bill (added 26/6/14)...

Hi - can you explain why I have received a Habitation Tax bill in June, which is payable in July please? Also it has my wife's and my name on it, plus the name of a guy that we took in for several months (long story), who left us in March 2012!

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I understood Taxe d'Habitation bills were sent towards the end of the year, unless you have chosen to pay by direct debit either monthly or annually, so I am not sure why you have received one in June. I would suggest you contact your local council offices (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) to query this, and to clear up the names that appear on the bill.

An update...

Thanks for coming back to me. After visiting the Tax office, it appears the guy we helped out, whose name is also on the bill, didn't report his new address as he should have done when leaving us. Although they now know where he is, because there is a gap in his file, they are wrongly assuming he was living with us and therefore we have lost our reduction.

It seems we are obliged to pay (451.00 Euros) unless we can track this guy down and get him to sign something that will confirm when he left us. I guess this will open him up to an additional bill, so he's probably not going to be agreeable to this. Can they force the above bill on us, after explaining?

On a separate note, we had new windows installed last December. Are we able to claim a Tax Credit for these? We've been told because we had only one measure installed, it will not be possible. Would you know anything about this?

Our reply...

With regard to the first Taxe d'Habitation issue, I fear you may be held responsible for the amount owed, unless you can come to an arrangement with the tax office.

And I'm afraid I don't know about the Tax Credit with your new windows. What I do know is that Tax Credits can only be awarded to those properties which are main residences, not second homes. As the rules for tax credits can be quite complex it would probably be best if you contact your local energy efficiency office, the Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (ADEME). Or perhaps you could check with the people at your Mairie?

84. A question about a Taxe Fonciere refund (added 4/8/14)...

I have recently bought a French property, and having made enquiries, have discovered that the Taxe Fonciere has been miscalculated for the past six years. As a result a refund is due. Is this refund be payable to me as the current owner, or the previous owners?

Fingers are obviously crossed....

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would think the refund would go to whoever paid the tax in the first place, so in this case the previous owners, but if they cannot be found you may be lucky. The place to find this out though is your local council office (Centre des Impots Fonciers or Bureau de Cadastre) or maybe your Mairie. Good luck!

85. A question about paying Taxe Fonciere when a property has been sold (added 15/10/14)...

Hi - we live in England and have just sold our French property on 15 September. The French property was a holiday home and we are UK residents. We have just received a Tax Fonciere Avis d'impot 2014 for 333 Euros. Please can you advise if we have to pay this demand as we are no longer the owners. The Notaire reimbursed 90 Euros into our bank account. Sorry for the question but we are confused.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. This has come up a few times as you can see above. As I understand it, if you own a property on the 1st of January of a particular year, you would be liable for the Taxe Fonciere for the whole of that year, even if it was sold during that period. However, usually an arrangement with the purchaser is put in place by the Notaire dealing with the sale, that they pay for the months of the year they would own the property. The bill would still come to you (billed in arrears), but you should have been reimbursed by the purchaser of your property prior to this. This sounds as if it has been done. Any further bills should then go to the new owners.

your comments...

1. Tax costs for second homes (added 8/3/11)...

My property is a second home and the Taxe d'Habitation is much higher than if I was resident. When I purchased in May 2009 the previous owner paid 130 Euros. For 2010 I had to pay 634 Euros, plus 121 Euros for the TV licence. I get no relief for the TV even though I am well over 60, when residents do not have to pay anything for that licence.

2. A comment about the current cost of property taxes (added 30/10/12)...

I think your estimates for tax payable are way out. I have a house in Dordogne worth £135,000. The Taxe Fonciere is 900 Euros, habitation 550 Euros, refuse collection 150 Euros. Total 1600 Euros or £1280 per annum.

My daughter has a flat in south-east England worth about £130,000 and pays £950 per annum.

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