Claim refunds of social charges on French incomes

30 August 2019
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People living outside France but within the EU and those in France but affiliated to another EU country’s social security system can apply for refunds of French social charges paid on property capital gains and rental income or, for French residents, investment and savings incomes.

This includes British second homeowners and British pensioners living in France with an S1 form showing their healthcare is paid for by the UK. It also affects cross-border workers.

The amount of these charges would have been 15.5% of income in 2016 and 2017 and 17.2% for charges paid in 2018.

Refunds are not automatic and must be applied for. There are time limits (see below).

Britons are advised to act before Brexit as it may be more complicated to do so as non-EU citizens.

It comes after court rulings have confirmed the right to reimbursements in the latest twist in a long-running saga dating from a 2015 case (known as ‘de Ruyter’) in the European Court of Justice which said people should not pay social charges in more than one EU country.

People were able to obtain refunds for levies made before 2016 when France changed the way money from the charges was used.

The new rulings confirm the changes were insufficient (matters changed again from 2019 and this article relates only to charges from 2016-2018).

In a ruling of April 16 (ruling 423586 – click here) France’s highest administrative court annulled French tax authority documents on the levying of social charges on property income of non-affiliated people.

Then on July 1 (ruling 422780 – click here) it confirmed a ruling of the Nancy administrative appeals court last year in favour of a couple who were affiliated to Swiss social security.

Strasbourg avocat (lawyer) Clint Goffin van Aken said the rulings show refunds are due, including all the social charges (prélèvements sociaux) plus interest.
Claims must be made by the end of 2019 for charges on property capital gains in 2017 and on investment income from 2016 levied in 2017.

Write to your tax office in French requesting a refund based on the rulings, by recorded delivery with receipt slip. Apply to your French tax office if you are a French resident or for non-residents if concerning capital gains from selling a property.

Non-residents applying relating to rental income should apply to the non-residents’ tax service.

You should include proof of the charges contested (such as a copy of the relevant income tax and social charges statement) and evidence of not being a burden on the French sécurité sociale, such as a copy of an S1 form. 

Another option is to use a specialist who can be found by a search with terms such as ‘avocat remboursement CSG CRDS’. They typically charge a fixed fee plus a percentage of money recovered.

Tax office advice on claims was previously published in English here (PDF document).

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