My husband and I fall into the category of non-resident persons owning a second home in France that is not rented out. We were surprised that such people were considered not to contribute to French local services and infrastructure because we believe that we pay a higher rate on our 'second home' when calculations are made for Tax Fonciere, Tax D'habitation and services such as gas and electricity than those paying on a first home. In addition we feel quite strongly that, because we visit our home in France every year for a few months, we habitually contribute to the local economy by way of a large capital input when purchasing the house and by way of our daily spend for food, repairs and maintenance.
The fact that the idea of a selective charge for non-residents has been even muted by the French government is very worrying because, in our experience, it is likely that another tax raising idea penalising non-residents will raise it's ugly head under another name. We can't quite understand how, if we are members of the EU with the right to live and work in any other member state, we can be penalised for exercising that right.
The annual charge for tax Fonciere and tax D'habitation is, in for us, several thousand euros in each case and increasing. This is much higher than we pay for our first home in our country of residence. If we had had to pay a duplicate amount we would have packed-up and left France for good.
We have an apartment in the centre of La Rochelle which we use as a bolt hole and which we own outright, ie with no mortgage.
Given the tax as proposed we would definitely have sold up and moved out of France, which would have taken some 300,000 euros of capital out of the country as well as our annual spend of approximately 15,000 euros out of the local economy (inclusive of local taxes).
Despite the arguments about tax contributions I suspect the French Government have realised that other countries would follow suit, starting with Greece, possibly including Portugal, Spain and Ireland,. This would not only be Anti-European but sets the dangerous 1930s-style precedent that it is OK for a country to impose swingeing taxes on foreigners (in effect sequestrating a proportion of their assets), and in particular those foreigners who have no political power to vote against the measure. This would affect French people with property abroad.
Maybe it was more this threat than anything else that finished off the daft idea?
When my wife and I had the anticipated news that holiday homes were to have extra tax levy put on them,we do not rent, ours is just for us,I'm nearly 80 my wife 79, we were considering putting our property on the market,we may reconsider our position here in Normandy.
I always thought this proposed tax very unfair especially so when driving the M20 and seeing all those lorries who don't pay UK Road Tax busily wearing out the road surface and contributing zero to the UK economy! I live in Pas-de Calais because I enjoy France not because I wish to take advantage of any cost savings (not that there are very many left now!) As I said the tax would have been extremely unfair! Whilst I remain UK tax resident I still bring money into the local community so why should I be penalised!
We would have most definitely had to try to sell because much as we like visiting and staying in our little house, it would have become financially impossible for us.
The only effect the news has on us is a sigh of relief that perhaps you can now STOP printing endless "Whingeing Pom" letters in your otherwise excellent publication.
People who are, like all of us, foreign immigrants to France must expect changes in legislation sometimes. They should also do their homework thoroughly before taking such a big step as changing country, as well as learning the language, obviously. No-one makes us come here, we are not fleeing from a murderous regime, so we should just accept that yes, there will be things that don't suit... inheritance laws, driving habits, taxation, to name but a few.
Your correspondents' arrogant and ignorant attitudes make me feel embarrassed to be British in this wonderful, puzzling, beloved country. The letter-writer who complains that she isn't rich because she has a second home here, "just thrifty", should try living as we do on the basic minimum wage. She might redefine her idea of "thrifty". Most French can't afford a first home, let alone a second one... why should people like her expect any sympathy?
Perhaps now you can get back to printing, as you used to, interesting correspondence from intelligent people.