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Tax skyrockets for some landowners

Some people who own plots designated as building land have seen their taxe foncière increase more than 10,000%

OWNERS of some large back gardens or paddocks have had a shock to receive taxe foncière bills this month that are as much as 100 times the normal amount.

The Nice-Matin cites the case of one owner in the Var who was paying €240 in property tax on unbuilt land last year, and this year has received a bill for €25,000 – a rise of more than 10,000%.

Taxe foncière, whether on homes or unbuilt land is payable by October 15 or October 20 if paying online (Connexion’s Local Taxes in France helpguide has more on how to pay).

This comes as the government is trying to put pressure on people who own land considered suitable for building in some 618 communes where housing is in short supply.

A law change means that as of this year the valeur locative cadastrale (theoretical rental value) used to work out the taxe foncière on building land (which does not usually include ordinary gardens next to homes) is being increased by 25% plus €5/m2 from this year and €10/m2 from 2017.

However for it to apply, communes had to pass on to the tax offices lists of owners of applicable land, which has reportedly not happened everywhere.

One man, with a 2,000m2 plot behind his home which he uses for grazing horses told TF1 his tax had risen from €850 to €10,000 and he would pay €20,000 in two years – which he is incapable of paying on his pension of €1,200 a month.

“I’ll be forced to sell it, but it’s not fair. I was born in this village and wanted to keep this land,” he said.

The Finance Ministry said only about 1,730 households will be concerned, but Alpes-Maritimes senator Dominique Estrosi-Sassone told Nice-Matin she thought this was far below the real number who could be affected, bearing in mind the number of queries she has had just from her department.

She said the rule especially risked penalising people such as retired farmers or people who were hoping to pass on land to their children.

Former housing minister Benoist Apparu, who was behind the law in 2012, told TF1: “It seems to me a good idea that if you’ve got a piece of land where some flats could be built and it’s just going to sit there for 15 years – to push the owner to sell it or build something on it.”

MP Valérie Rabault said the measure was needed because “you just can’t find building land any more”. She added those who sell their land as a result and make a capital gain get an extra 30% off tax if they sell this year.

• Connexion’s Local Taxes in France helpguide gives full details of how France’s local taxes work, including the various reductions and exemptions, and costs €7.50 as a PDF download (or plus p&p for a printed version posted out) from Helpguides) or at 06 40 61 71 97.

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