Taxation in France

The sections below provide the basic information on taxation in France.

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Local information

  • Tax Authority Ministère de l'action et des comptes publics
  • Website www.impots.gouv.fr
  • Tax Year 1 January to 31 December
  • Tax Return due date The official deadline for filing is the end of February following the close of the calendar year, but this deadline is normally extended to different dates each year depending on the circumstances.
  • Is joint filing possible A married couple must file a joint return for all types of income and report their dependent children's income, if any
  • Are tax return extensions possible In general, returns are required by the middle to end of May following the end of the relevant tax year

Tax rates

2019 Income Tax Rates (most up to date rates available)

Taxable Income Band € National Income Tax Rates
€ 1 - € 9,964 0%
€ 9,965 - € 27,519 14%
€ 27,520 - € 73,779 30%
€ 73,780 - € 156,244 41%
€ 156,245 + 45%

Under the family coefficient system, the income brackets to which the tax rates apply are determined by dividing taxable income by the number of allowances available to an individual. The final tax liability is then calculated by multiplying the tax computed for one allowance by the number of allowances claimed.

High income taxpayers are liable for an exceptional tax calculated on their gross reference taxable income at either 3% or 4%.

CSG/CRDS applies to all resident taxpayers. It is charged at a rate of 9.7% on 98.25% of gross salary if it does not exceed €162,096 (2019 ceiling) per year and on 100% of the portion of the gross salary that exceeds €162,096, including benefits in kind and bonuses. CSG/CRDS on passive income and capital gains is increased by a social tax surcharge, resulting in a total rate of 17.2%.

A non-resident's tax liability may not be less than 20% of net taxable income. However, if a non-resident can prove that the effective rate of tax computed on their worldwide income, according to French tax rules, is less than 20%, the progressive income tax rates apply without limitation.

Additional information

Who is liable?

Individual income taxation is based on residence. Taxpayers are categorised as residents or non-residents. Treaty rules on tax residence override domestic rules.

Taxable income

Taxable income consists of annual disposable income from all sources. Income is identified based on its nature, and then allowances, deductions and treaty provisions are applied in calculating net taxable income subject to progressive tax rates.

The general principle is that losses from one category of income may offset profit from other categories and may be carried forward for six years. However, this principle is subject to limitations. Certain losses may be offset only against income from the same category of income. These include capital losses on quoted stocks and bonds.

Taxable salary income - The total of all compensation paid by an employer is considered taxable salary income and includes such items as the private-use element of a company car, employer-paid meals and employer-paid education expenses for employees and their dependent children. Taxable compensation does not include the following items paid by employers: certain pension contributions, certain medical insurance premiums and, for resident foreigners and non-residents, home-leave expenses, moving expenses and temporary housing expenses.

Self-employment and business income - Self-employment income is divided into the following three categories, depending on the nature of the activities: commercial (includes trades), professional and agricultural.

Taxable income realised from each category is subject to the progressive tax rates that apply to resident individuals. In addition, a self-employed individual is subject to a flat social tax.

Directors' fees - Under French internal law, directors' fees are treated as dividend income.

Directors' fees paid to non-residents are generally subject to a flat 12.8% withholding tax, unless a tax treaty provision reduces or eliminates the tax.

Investment income - Effective from 1 January 2018, interest and dividends are taxed at a flat rate of 30% (12.8% income tax and additional social charges of 17.2%). However, taxpayers can elect to be taxed on such income under regular progressive rates if more favourable.

Taxpayers who satisfy the Article 155 B conditions (see above) benefit from a 50% tax exemption with respect to their foreign-source dividends, interest, royalties and capital gains (resulting from sale of securities) for a period of five years (subject to certain conditions concerning the source of such income). Social surtaxes of 17.2% remain payable on the full income.

Net income derived from the rental of real estate and from royalty income (other than for industrial property) is taxed as ordinary income. Royalties from industrial property are taxed at a rate of 33.33%, subject to a possible reduced rate provided in a tax treaty. Income from real estate is subject to income tax plus 17.2% CSG/CRDS and social tax.

Exempt income includes the following:

  • Certain profits from the sale of securities.
  • Family allowances and health care reimbursements.
  • Payments received pursuant to life insurance contracts (under certain conditions).

Taxation of employer-provided stock options - Exercise gains realised on stock options from nonqualified plans or from qualified plans where the reporting requirements are not met, are subject to full ordinary income tax and employee and employer social security contributions.

Stock option plans that qualify under French corporate law benefit from a favourable tax regime. Foreign plans may be amended to qualify under the French rules.

Restricted stock awards are also subject to favourable tax and social security treatment if the company's plan meets specific rules.

Under Article 182 A of the French Tax Code implemented by the 2010 French Amended Finance Act, the French income tax due on the French-source portion of qualified stock options or qualified (restricted stock unit) RSU gains realised by individuals who are not tax residents in France at the time of the taxable event must be withheld by the entity that pays the cash proceeds from the sale of the shares. The income tax must be withheld at the flat rate applicable to the qualified stock options or qualified RSU gains (18%, 30%, or 41% for gains realised in 2019) or at the specific progressive withholding tax rates applicable to compensation income if the beneficiary has elected to have the gain taxed at the progressive rates of income tax.

Exit tax

An exit tax on restricted categories of income (mainly capital gains) may apply to taxpayers who departed France on or after 3 March 2011 if they own more than 50% of the stocks of a company or have more than €800,000 in shares the day before breaking their French tax residency, and if the taxpayer was a French resident for at least 6 years during the last 10 years. The exit tax on the unrealised capital gain calculated at the date of the tax residency transfer may be due or may be postponed with or without a financial guarantee, depending on the country to which the taxpayer transfers her or his tax residency. Effective from 1 January 2014, after the departure from France, the taxpayer must hold his or her shares for at least 15 years (for transfers of residence after 1 January 2019, the 15-year period is reduced to 2 years or 5 years if the shares value exceeds €2,570,000). If the taxpayer decides to sell his or her shares before the end of this period, the postponement of the taxation ends, and the taxpayer is taxable on the gains calculated at the departure. The taxpayer must comply with filing obligations, which differ depending on the state and date of the transfer.

Inheritance and gift taxes

If a decedent or donor was resident in France (or if the heir or beneficiary is French tax resident and was French tax resident during 6 years of the 10 past years), tax is payable on gifts and inheritances of worldwide net assets, unless otherwise provided by an applicable double tax treaty. For non-resident decedents or donors, only gifts and inheritances of French assets are taxable, provided the beneficiary is also a non-resident of France.

Various reliefs and exemptions apply.

To provide relief from double inheritance taxes, France has entered into estate tax treaties with 37 countries.

Tax filing and payment procedures

From 1 January 2019, French income tax for resident taxpayers is paid via the French withholding tax system. The withholding tax system applies to wages, pension payments, and unemployment allowances paid by the French entities. Wages paid by non-French legal employers through payroll outside France are also subject to a withholding process via shadow payroll (a fictitious payroll used only for calculating the basis of the withholding tax due).

For income not subject to the withholding tax, such as business income, self-employment income and rental income, monthly or quarterly income tax instalments are directly withheld from the French bank accounts of individuals.

Both resident and non-resident taxpayers must file an annual French income tax return in the following year. Based on the return, the French tax administration issues a French income tax bill in August or September, mentioning the additional amount to be paid or the amount of the tax refund.

A penalty of 10% of tax due is imposed for either a failure to file or a failure to pay by the due date. Other interest and penalties may also be assessed, generally at an annual rate of 2.4%, or at a monthly rate of 0.2%.

A non-resident with income taxable in France is not required to report that portion subject to final withholding tax on a non-resident tax return. This includes salary income taxed at a 0% or 12% rates, dividends and interest. Dividends are subject to a 12.8% withholding tax, and interest is taxed at rates ranging from 0% to 12.8%. Tax treaties may modify these rates. Rental income and the portion of salary taxed at a 20% rate must be included on a non-resident return. Few deductions are allowed in calculating a non-resident's taxable income. The tax liability with respect to the taxable income declared on the tax return is then calculated using the progressive rates and the family coefficient system. The tax payable is reduced by withholding prepayments, including the 20% withholding on salary.

Residence status for tax purposes

Persons of French or foreign nationality are considered residents for tax purposes if their home, principal place of abode, professional activity or centre of economic interest is located in France. As a resident, an individual is taxed on worldwide income, subject to applicable treaty exemptions.

Persons not considered resident as defined above are taxed on French-source income only.

A favourable expatriate tax law applies to employees seconded to France after 1 January 2004. This favourable tax regime (Article 81 B of the French tax code) provides that under certain conditions, expatriates seconded to France after 1 January 2004 may not be taxed on compensation items relating to the assignment in France, such as a cost-of-living allowance, housing cost reimbursement and tax equalisation payments. The main condition is that the taxpayer must not have been considered a tax resident of France in any of the five tax years preceding his or her year of arrival in France.

Effective from 1 January 2008, the favourable tax regime described above (now Article 155 B) was extended to local hires (including French nationals) who relocate to France and meet the above residency criteria. Under the Impatriate Tax Regime, employees hired directly by a French company (excluding intra-company transfers) may elect to have 30% of their net remuneration treated as an impatriate premium and thereby exempted from French income tax up to the limit of the French reference net taxable salary (compensation received by other employees with respect to equivalent positions).

The option for the 30% impatriate premium has recently been extended to the following:

  • Individuals called by a foreign company to a company in France
  • Intra-company transfers

This provision applies to individuals taking up their duties in France on or after 16 November 2018. The period of application for the favourable tax regime is extended to 31 December of the eighth year following the year of transfer to France for taxpayers who transferred to France on or after 6 July 2016.

A foreign expatriate assigned to the French headquarters (HQ) of a multinational company may be eligible under a HQ ruling for tax relief for up to six years from the assignment date. The principal advantage of a HQ ruling is the elimination of tax-on-tax if the employer reimburses an expatriate for his or her excess foreign tax liability.

Capital gains

Capital gains derived from the disposal of shareholdings and real estate are subject to tax in France.

Effective from 1 January 2018, capital gains realised by a taxable household on the sale of listed or unlisted shares, bonds, or related funds are taxed at a flat rate of 30% (12.8% income tax and 17.2% of CSG/CRDS and additional social charges). Taxpayers can elect to be taxed at progressive tax rates with a discount based on the holding period if more favourable.

Gains derived from the sale of real property are taxable at a rate of 19%, and are subject to CSG/CRDS and social tax (17.2%), resulting in a combined total tax rate of 36.2%. Gains are reduced for each year that the property is held, effective from the 5 th year of ownership (no chargeable gain arises with respect to property owned for 22 years or more for income tax and no charge for CSG/CRDS and social taxes applies after 30 years of ownership). The purchase price is increased to take into account purchase expenses and capital improvements. Effective from 1 January 2013, supplementary tax rates apply to capital gains in excess of €50,000. These supplementary tax rates range from 2% to 6%.

Individuals may benefit from a total exemption for gains derived from the sale of a principal private residence.

Capital losses from the disposal of real estate are final losses and may not be carried forward to offset future capital gains from real estate.

Real Estate Wealth tax

Effective from 1 January 2018, the real estate wealth tax replaced the wealth tax.

The real estate wealth tax is levied on individuals with total net real estate assets exceeding €1,300,000 as of 1 January.

Real estate wealth tax applies to all real estate assets and real estate rights as well as to the shares in companies or other organisations for the fraction of the assets that represent real estate or real estate rights held directly or indirectly.

The following are the progressive rates of real estate wealth tax.

2019 Real Estate Wealth Tax Rates

Taxable Income Band € National Income Tax Rates
€ 0 - € 800,000 0%
€ 800,001 - € 1,300,000 0.5%
€ 1,300,001 - € 2,570,000 0.7%
€ 2,570,001 - € 5,000,000 1%
€ 5,000,001 - €10,000,000 1.25%
€ 10,000,001 + 1.5%

A discount is planned for the taxable wealth included between €1,300,000 and €1,400,000.

French tax residents are taxed on their French and foreign real estate assets. Non-French tax residents are taxed on their French real estate assets only, subject to the application of tax treaties.

Under French domestic law, a specific exemption exists for individuals who move their residence to France and who have not been French tax residents during the preceding five civil years. These individuals benefit from a wealth tax exemption on their foreign assets for five years.

Real estate wealth tax due from a French tax resident can be capped if the total taxes due from the individual exceed 75% of his or her annual income of the preceding year.

French taxpayers liable for real estate wealth tax must indicate their net asset value on the 2042-IFI tax form filed with the annual income tax return. The French tax administration calculates the real estate wealth tax and the amount due must be paid after the receipt of the real estate wealth tax assessment.

Social security

An individual's social security taxes are withheld monthly by the employer. French social security tax contributions are due on compensation, including bonuses and benefits in kind, earned from performing an activity in France even if paid from a foreign country. However, this rule may be modified by a social security totalization agreement. The total charge for 2019 is approximately 15% to 24% (depending on retirement fund contributions and level of remuneration) of gross salary for employees, and 35% to 47% for employers.

Social security taxes are independent from CSG and CRDS contributions.

New legislation has also been enacted which allows for certain employees to opt out of paying French statutory pension contributions. Under certain conditions, employees and their employers can opt out of paying statutory pension contributions for a period of three years that is renewable for three additional years.

Double tax relief and tax treaties

If a double tax treaty does not apply, residents are generally allowed to deduct foreign taxes paid as an expense.

France has signed numerous double tax treaties. Double taxation is generally eliminated by a tax credit (for employment income, the credit is generally equal to the French income tax on such income) or by exemption with progression (income is exempt from French income tax but is taken into consideration in determining the effective rate of tax applied to the taxpayer's other French taxable income).

France has entered into double tax treaties with 125 countries.

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The Tax section is provided by EY in accordance with their Terms and Conditions This link opens in a new window . EY accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of this information. By using this information you are accepting the terms under which EY is making the content available to you based on the legislation and practices of the country concerned as of 1 July 2019 by EY and published in its Worldwide personal tax guide, 2019-20. Tax legislation and administrative practices may change, and this document is a summary of potential issues to consider. This document should not be used as a substitute for professional tax advice which should be sought for the country of arrival and departure in advance of moving in order to discuss your circumstances. It is your responsibility to ensure you make all relevant disclosures to the tax authorities and that you are compliant with local tax legislation.

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