Sports, medical reforms and new tax credits for 2018
Sporting events, the welfare service and the euro in your pocket are all facing changes this year, with plenty of big dates on the calendar. Here is our round-up of the key events as well as other modifications coming up, from new childhood vaccinations to the stricter contrôle technique.
Changes are due in the Brevet des collèges exam, taken at the end of troisième, with continuous assessment and the final exam once again having equal weight (the former was worth more in 2017, meaning some children ‘passed’ before taking their exams).
The finals will include four written exams instead of two. As before, there is also an oral exam, which will now include history of art as an option.
A more selective university entrance system should be in place by the 2018 rentrée, aiming to end the ballot for places on oversubscribed courses. Universities will set preferred qualification requirements for courses.
Events and culture
The biennial Europe-US golf competition The Ryder Cup will be held in France for the first time, at the Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, south-west of Paris.
The event, from September 28-30, will only be the second time the competition has been held in continental Europe, after Spain in 1997. The Ryder Cup started in 1927, between Britain and the US, and was extended to other European countries in 1979.
A Junior Ryder Cup will be held alongside the main event, on the golf course at Disneyland Paris.
This year the Hermione replica 18th century frigate will take to sea again for an Atlantic and Mediterranean voyage. Crewed by Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie volunteers, it leaves Rochefort on January 30 for La Rochelle, Tangiers, Barcelona, Sète, Toulon, La Ciotat, Marseille, Port-Vendres, Bastia, Portimao, Pasaia and Bordeaux.
November 11 sees the centenary of the end of the First World War. The day is already a French bank holiday and marked with ceremonies at war memorials, but there are expected to be special national commemorations. It falls on a Sunday in 2018, meaning that the French Armistice Day coincides with Remembrance Day in the UK this year.
Toulouse has been named European City of Science for 2018 and it will therefore, for the first time, host Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary science and innovation event, EuroScience Open Forum.
In parallel with this event, aimed at professionals, the Festival Science in the City will be held at venues around the town. Free from July 7-15, it will be aimed at everyone and all ages.
Gay Games open to all competitors
Paris will host the 10th Gay Games in various city venues from August 4-12 and, on going to press, events were still open for new adult competitors of all ages and abilities.
Held every four years, it claims to be the world’s biggest sporting and cultural event open to all – anyone over 18, regardless of sexual orientation but who support its values of tolerance and diversity may take part. It is possible to register to take part at paris2018.com as long as all 15,000 places are not filled. “The important thing is to have as big a mixture of people as possible,” a spokesman said.
The games were started in San Francisco in 1982, at a time when it was difficult for people to be out as LGBT and to take part in sport.
Women aged 25 are to be invited for a free preventative consultation on breast and cervical cancer looking at the risks and screening programmes. The government wants these cancers detected as early as possible.
Eleven childhood vaccinations rather than three will become obligatory from January 1.
New to the list are whooping cough, measles-mumps-rubella, hepatitis B, haemophilus flu, pneumococcal disease and meningococcal C.
The planned roll-out of the tiers payant system for healthcare – exempting everyone from upfront payments for the state-reimbursed part of fees – has been put off indefinitely, but a report is due by March 31 which will reconsider the plan.
The Hollande government had promised everyone would benefit and had hoped to extend it to the ‘top-up’ part of the fee so nothing had to be advanced for those with sufficient mutuelle cover.
Health Minister Agnès Buzyn is sceptical about whether better-off people need it and the report will examine whether people are put off healthcare because of upfront costs.
Unchanged since 2010, the forfait hospitalier daily hospital charge is rising from €18 to €20.
Meanwhile, some hospitals are to test setting fixed rates for care depending on a patient’s needs, as opposed to payments based on individual medical acts.
A single number for contacting a médecin de garde (out of hours doctor) for a call-out or for medical advice on the phone was due to be available across France on 117 116 after trials in limited areas in 2017.
On going to press, however, the expected roll-out was said not to be ready in all areas and doctors were calling for this to be remedied.
A revamped version of an online medical records system which had a disappointing take-up in its previous incarnation is now available nation-wide after regional trials. The DMP (dossier médical partagé) is now more user-friendly and patients set it up themselves rather than doctors.
It is free and optional, and only yourself and medical professionals to whom you give access may consult and add to it.
Visit dmp.gouv.fr to find out more. To start your DMP click ‘Patient’ and then ‘Je crée mon DMP’.
Grand Prix racing returns to France
The French Grand Prix is set to stage its return this year bringing Formula 1 back to France after a 10-year absence.
Last held at the Magny-Cours track in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, it will this year be held at the Circuit du Castellet, near Bandol in the Var from June 21-24.
The French GP is the oldest grand prix and the first was held on a 106km course at Le Mans in 1906. In all, 16 different venues have been used.
Home and daily life
The current income tax credit for eco-friendly home improvements, called CITE, has been extended for a year in 2018, but with slight reductions in what work is eligible.
This could be the last time these credits will be available as the government is looking to swap them for a grant instead, as of 2019.
Oil-fired heating will no longer be eligible this year and double glazing, shutters and entrance doors will no longer be eligible from March 28 (and until then qualify for only a 15% credit instead of 30%).
Stamp prices rise on January 1, up 10 centimes to 95 centimes for a ‘red’ lettre prioritaire and from 73 centimes to 80 for a lettre verte. Prices for sending in the EU will be €1.20 (up from €1.10) up to 20g, then €2.40 (from €2.20) up to 100g and then €6 (from €5.50) up to 250g.
Retired people will be able to benefit fully from the income tax credit for costs of employing home help when they make tax declarations for 2017 income in spring 2018. It is now a credit, not just a reduction, for everyone, meaning those who pay no, or little, income tax will receive a payment to make up the unused benefit.
Single parent families will see a boost in money for helping pay for childcare, complément mode de garde (CMG), by up to 30% for those on low incomes from October 2018. It could average €70 extra a month.
However a reduction is planned in the amount of the PAJE benefit paid to parents of new babies, applicable to children born or adopted from April.
The taxe soda on fizzy drinks will be modified so it is variable on the rate of sugar in the drink, aiming to fight obesity more effectively.
Cigarette prices will rise in March bringing the average price of a pack, up around a euro to €8.10.
La Poste plans to stop its mandate cash ordinaire service as of January 31, its long-standing service for sending cash. As a replacement, customers will be offered a Western Union service, which allows for making fast transfers of money in France and worldwide.
La Poste says it is due to efforts to fight against money laundering.
A new Galeries Lafayette department store was set to open on the Champs-Elysées in Paris at the end of 2018, however, a spokeswoman said it had hit delays and was now expected in the first half of 2019.
From January 1 French websites offering consumer reviews must date them and inform users if the reviews have been verified or not.
Investigations by fraud officers have shown that as many as a third of online evaluation comments on such sites are fraudulent. An optional, paid-for ‘NF Service’ accreditation indicates a site that has been certified for its reliability.
Also this year, new rules require online marketplaces and ‘peer to peer’ services to give more complete information such as whether a seller is professional or not, fees charged to them by the site and details of cooling-off periods and guarantees.
A recently introduced system of digital photographs and signatures for driving licence applications is expected to be extended to other forms of official documents this year.
The special photos can be taken at accredited booths that say on them ‘agrée services en ligne ANTS’ – the photo is transmitted to a central database and can be retrieved while making an online application by entering a code.
Brexit negotiations will be moving into a ‘second phase’ from the start of the new year.
This will involve agreeing on a ‘framework’ of what the ‘future relationship’ between the UK and EU will be, including arrangements for trade.
It will also consider what transition arrangements may be agreed so as to avoid Britain leaving in an abrupt ‘cliff-edge’ manner before vital matters can be finalised, whether on trade or air travel rules etc.
If all goes to plan, the ‘first phase’ agreements on expat rights, the exit payment and the Northern Ireland border plus a proposal for a transition period should be put into a draft exit treaty for approval at an EU summit in October, after which it will have to be voted on by the EU and British parliaments.
Corsica as of the start of January 2018 is now run as a single local authority, the Collectivité de Corse.
The body, headed by devolution supporter Gilles Simeoni, replaces two departmental councils for Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud and the former collectivité territorial body, which had a regional authority role.
The elected ‘parliament’ for the island, the Assemblée de Corse, and the small ‘government’ it appoints, the Conseil Exécutif – formerly part of the collectivité territorial – will still exist under the new regime. See Page 4
A Franco-British summit on a wide range of issues including defence and security is to take place in January at a location and dates that were still unknown on going to press.
A reform of the theoretical annual rental values used in calculating the local property taxes, which had been expected for 2017’s taxes, has once again been pushed back and is not expected to apply now in 2018.
The question of updating the outdated Valeurs Locatives Cadastrales (VLC) so they better reflect real market values has been under review for several years but it has hit delays partly as a knock-on effect of delays to a similar review of the VLCs used for commercial premises in working out their property-based business tax.
The latter reform finally came into effect in 2017 and as of 2018’s business taxes a new mechanism will be in place updating business VLCs each year based on actual rents paid by commercial tenants.
The stated aim is to make the taxes fairer, as VLCs had been based on old valuations not reflecting relative rises and drops in value in different areas.
The Pinel tax break for investing in buy-to-let property (which must be rented out at a low ‘social’ rate for at least six years) has been extended to 2021, but is being refocused on areas with the highest housing pressures such as Paris and the Riviera, large cities and a few smaller ones where property is expensive, such as Annecy, Bayonne or Chambéry.
The PTZ interest-free loan for first-time home buyers has been extended, but also with some changes.
Nothing changes in the areas with the highest housing pressures (zones A, Abis and B1), but in zones B2 and C the maximum loan value drops from 40% to 20% of the purchase price for a new home.
For a home needing renovation, the PTZ will now only be available in the more rural or suburban zones categorised as B2 and C.
Communes will now set the level of their parking fines and will also have the right to use private services to patrol paid-for parking areas.
In Paris, the Mairie de Paris replaces the Préfecture de Police. Private staff will give forfait de post-stationnement (FPS) – post-parking levy – and not une amende (fine).
The levy equals the cost of six hours of parking, which is €50 in central Paris, up from €17 for the police amende, and will be payable at paris.fr
Motorway péage toll fees are set to rise by 1-2% in February, with the highest rise expected to be in the AREA network in Rhône-Alpes.
easyJetopens a sixth French base, at Bordeaux-Mérignac in March, basing three A320 planes there. Its seven new destinations include London Southend with three flights a week from July 25.
From January 15 Ryanair will allow only priority passengers to have large bags in the cabin. Others can only use bags of up to 35cm x 20cm x 20cm.
A database of insured vehicles is being set up to allow automatic checks to see if a car is insured when flashed by a radar gun or roadside cameras.
Vehicle carte grise documents must now be in the name of an adult with a driving licence, even if it is owned by someone without one (some drivers have in the past registered them under a child’s name to avoid penalty points).
Diesel is set to rise in price by 2.6 centimes per litre, with similar rises in the following three years. This is on top of an annual rise in the composante carbone tax on fossil fuels and is intended to gradually equalise petrol and diesel prices as the government feels savings on diesel are unjustified.
New stricter tests for the contrôle technique start on May 20. The test will take longer and cost up to 20% more, with more checks – up from 123 to 132 and potential types of ‘failure’ soaring from 453 to 606.
Drivers must remember the renewal date, as no automatic prompts are sent and not having a CT means a fine.
Crit’air stickers, used to control traffic levels during periods of pollution, are scheduled to begin in Annecy, Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse.
Work and employment
People on the micro-entrepreneur simple small business regime will be able to earn twice as much and still stay in the regime. From January 1 turnover ceilings rise from €33,200 to €70,000 for services and from €82,800 to €170,000 for sales. However there is no corresponding rise in the ceiling for exemption from charging VAT.
A two-year transition period starts this month for the abolition of the RSI, which deals with social charges for most small businesses. Its tasks will be taken over by equivalent bodies that work for the general public, ie. the Cpams for health, Carsat for retirement etc.
Practical changes from January will also include the self-employed paying their health cotisations to Urssaf, not to an agency of the RSI.
The increase of the CSG social charge by 1.7% is to be compensated for the self-employed by a cut in the cotisation payment for family allowance by 2.15 percentage points.
Variable reductions in the health cotisation (up to 5% for those on low incomes) are also planned for self-employed people with net incomes of less than €43,000 per year.
New businesses will benefit from a first year free from social cotisations if their net income is less than €40,000.
Employers will be exempt from ‘employee’ social charges for unemployment insurance and healthcare (totalling 3.5% of gross pay), with a 2.25% reduction on January 1 and the rest on October 1.
The Smic minimum wage rises by 1.24% on January 1, a standard annual increase (using a formula) which the government says amounts, with new social charge reductions, to an extra €35/month. Recent proposals to axe the automatic increase or change how it is worked out were dropped.