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New resident tax to help fund high-speed rail link in southwest France

People from over 2,000 communes are concerned for the next 40 years. Work on the €13.5bn project will begin next year

A photo of a train speeding through the French countryside

The high-speed train will reduce journey times between Paris, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, and will be partially funded by local residents’ taxes Pic: voyageur8 / Shutterstock

Residents in more than 2,000 communes in Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine will have to pay an extra tax this year and for the next 40 years to help finance the future high-speed railway line between Bordeaux and Toulouse.

The project is set to cost €13.5billion. It will be 40% funded by the state, 40% by 26 local authorities in Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine and 20% by the European Union.

Residents of 2,340 communes in these departments will be affected.

The new taxe spéciale d'équipement (special equipment tax) will help finance the ‘Grand Projet Sud-Ouest (GPSO)’ company, bringing in €29.5million per year. 

The exact amount of the tax is not yet known but it is estimated to be low - at between €4 and €8 per household or business each year - for the next 40 years. 

The extra tax will be added for those who already pay: 

  • Taxe foncière (property tax) on propriétés bâties (built property) 
  • Taxe foncière (property tax) on propriétés non-bâties (unbuilt property)
  • Taxe d’habitation (housing tax) on second homes
  • Tax on furnished premises not used as a main residence
  • Business property tax

The tax will be payable by communes in these departments in the Occitanie region:

  • Ariège
  • Aude
  • Gers
  • Haute-Garonne
  • Hautes-Pyrénées
  • Lot
  • Tarn
  • Tarn-et-Garonne

It will also be payable by communes in these departments in Nouvelle-Aquitaine: 

  • Charente
  • Charente-Maritime
  • Dordogne
  • Gironde
  • Landes
  • Lot-et-Garonne
  • Pyrénées-Atlantiques

A full list of the affected communes can be found on the government’s Journal officiel legal publication and interactive maps can be seen on the La Dépeche website here

To calculate whether, and how much, a commune should pay, the state calculated how far away each mairie is from the line’s future stations. 

Those that are “less than 60 minutes’ drive from a station” are included, the official statement says.

More communes in Gironde, Landes, Haute-Garonne and Lot-et-Garonne are affected. In contrast, only two communes in Hautes-Pyrénées and Charente are concerned.

Work on the project is set to begin in 2024. The new line will enable travellers to cut the travel time between Toulouse and Paris by one hour. This will make the capital three hours and 10 minutes away from Toulouse or Bordeaux, instead of the current four hours and 10 minutes.

It will take one hour and five minutes to travel between Toulouse and Bordeaux, down from two hours and five minutes now.

The line has been controversial, with critics in 2021 dubbing the plans “insane and anachronistic”. Instead, they called for improvements to existing lines.

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