Property tax: what rebates?

Send your money and financial queries to Hugh MacDonald atfinance@connexionfrance.com

17 October 2011
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I UNDERSTAND there are rebates on taxe foncière and d’habitation to residents who are elderly or disabled. My wife and I are both close to 80. My wife is handicapped
with a French disability card. However we pay tax in the UK, not in France, other than the property taxes. Can you clarify whether we qualify for rebate? If not, are we not being discriminated against? M.M.

There are reductions or even exemptions from these local taxes for people meeting certain criteria, which include age and disability-related ones. If your French home was a second home, then you would not be eligible, as the concessions are for people whose main fiscal residence is in France. However it sounds like you may be resident in France despite only paying tax in the UK. This may, for example be because you have a UK government pension (ie. one paid by the Paymaster General, for work such as being a civil servant) but it could also be because your have not correctly established your fiscal residency in France. If you are established as a legitimate French fiscal resident, then you would be eligible for the concessions, irrespective of whether or not your income is taxed in France or you have a UK government pension, but nonetheless eligibility to them does depend on your total income not exceeding certain limits. Connexion publishes a helpguide on income tax (available from www.connexionfrance.com priced €7.50), which deals with matters including fiscal residency.

Am I entitled to use the réel tax system?

IF I register as an auto-enterpreneur can I use the réel simplifié tax system (ie. claiming costs/expenses against gross earnings) system or do I have to use the micro one (with fixed percentages)? D.C.

The latter applies. The auto-entrepreneur is by definition a kind of micro regime business (in fact it is a simplified version of what is already a somewhat simplified small business set-up - the micro) which is in contrast to the more traditional réel (“real”) taxation regime. For businesses with a lot of expenses, this can be a drawback to the auto-entrepreneur system.

My bank is delaying in closing account

I WROTE to the bank ING Direct requesting the closure of an account and giving them details of the account to transfer the proceeds to. I am still waiting for this transfer, more than two months down the line. The sum is about €22,000. My correspondence with them is at a stalemate. I am at a loss to know what to do other than complain, as I have done, to the French banking mediator. D.W.

You seem to be going down the correct channels, however we suggest there is one element you may have overlooked, which is an annoying part of the French system: frequently there is a minimum cancellation period - for example, six month’s notice, or three month’s prior to the annual account anniversary. Might the delay be due to that? As a general rule, cessations of bank accounts can take around three weeks.

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