All owners of property in France must make a new one-off online or phone declaration explaining how they use their property by June 30 2023.
This is to ensure tax offices have up-to-date information on how to tax them and thus avoid errors, officials told The Connexion.
Read more: All owners of French properties must fill in this new tax-site form
€150 fine for non-compliance
However, an association that holds public bodies to account over the use of taxpayers’ money has called the process ‘intrusive’.
It says it is important to warn people that they can be fined €150 per property if they fail to comply.
The obligation covers main and second homes, and properties that are rented out.
The only exception is for properties that are not assessable for taxe d’habitation or taxe sur les logements vacants – for example, if used exclusively for renting out as holiday lets and only subject to CFE business taxe and not taxe d'habitation.
Apart from this, individual owners, SCI property ownership companies and people with usufruit (legal right of use) are all included.
Read more: What is France’s empty homes tax and why more people will be paying it
Declare if French property is main or second home
Owners must declare if the property is used as a main home or not, either in a dedicated part of their personal or business space on the tax site impots.gouv.fr or by phone.
Tax officials say it is needed because the taxe d’habitation has been abolished for all main homes so they want to make sure this is only levied on second homes.
A spokeswoman for central tax authorities DGFiP said: “We have a lot of this information so, in most cases, the declaration we are asking for is just a simple validation, to be done once, unless the situation changes in the future.”
‘It is intrusive’
However, Olivier Bertaux, tax expert for association Contribuables Associés, said: “The Fisc say it will make it easier for people to manage their properties but taxpayers are perfectly capable of doing that on their own.
“And as you have to really give every little detail, it seems rather as if the Fisc is asking the taxpayer to do its job for it. It is intrusive.
“It will enable them to check the number of rooms, the level of comfort, the garages and cellars, etc.
“It comes in a context where the Fisc is getting more intrusive, wanting to know everything to do with what taxpayers own.”
Mr Bertaux said the authorities are especially keen to establish which properties are second homes.
“This is partly to avoid people who own more than one property giving the impression that, from one year to the next, both are main residences,” he said.
“It is to oblige people to choose.”
Read more: Are French second home property taxes different for non-residents?
Declaration not part of income tax return
People should, in any case, tell their tax office if a house is used as a second home, as there have always been differences in local taxation between main and second homes.
The new declaration will not mean there will be additional tax compared to what would have been paid otherwise and, contrary to some reports that suggest it is part of the income tax return, this is not strictly correct.
It is not necessary to have any income declaration to complete, although those logging on to declare income this year will be invited to also complete the property declaration if relevant.
Helps keep property statuses up-to-date
The DGFiP spokeswoman said they will already have details of most main residences, as well as of the nature of homes that were bought as secondary residences, but might not have details of a recent change of use – for example if a person recently started using a former second home as a main home.
“The notaire sells a property but can’t know what will be done with it afterwards, whether left vacant or used as a main or second home.
“That can change over the years, hence the benefit for the DGFiP to have up-to-date files following the ending of the taxe d’habitation.”
Read more: Delay to plan to increase local tax for more second homes in France
She added that where properties are rented out, there was already a declaration to be made to the tax office, which the new process replaces. The tax office used to send a form out that landlords had to fill in and send back stating who was occupying their property.
Used to check against other tax declarations
Mr Bertaux said the obligation might also help tax offices to check they are collecting all relevant money under ‘tax at source’ systems, which includes instalments of estimated French income tax on rental incomes.
The information may also be used to check properties have been properly declared for IFI property wealth tax, where appropriate, as well as making sure the completion of newly-built properties has been notified to the tax office for payment of the one-off taxe d’aménagement on new constructions and extensions, he said.
Read more: How France’s tax inspectors use technology to track fraud and evasion
According to Mr Bertaux it is also likely that the information collected, including the amount of rent, will be used in a reform of properties’ theoretical rental values (valeurs locatives cadastrales) on which local property taxes are calculated, which is meant to take effect from 2026.
“It is true that it is optional at present to include the rent amount, but I don’t think that this will remain the case, just as we may envisage that in the future the authorities will also want the details of plots of undeveloped land owned,” Mr Bertaux said.
He said property owners should think carefully about which is their real main or secondary residence, as well as checking correct details are given on matters such as the number of rooms.
How to give information
If you have an account at impots.gouv.fr, you should sign in and click on Biens immobiliers at the top.
Property that has been declared to the tax office by a notaire after a purchase should already be listed with the note déclaration attendue (this will disappear once you have completed the declaration).
Property bought very recently may not be listed yet and you do not need to do anything.
You can click a button on your item to see information held on it, and another to start the declaration.
Garages, cellar and parking spaces
Any elements not physically attached to a house/flat will be listed separately – for example, a garage at the end of the garden or a private parking space.
In the case of flats, this also applies to a cellar in the basement but not exterior terraces attached to the flat.
While compiling the declaration for a house/flat you will have the chance to declare other items (eg. a garage) you use as part of your daily life at the property as being ‘concerned by this occupation’ to attach them as part of the same ensemble.
Describing the property
Surface area will be the real ‘wall-to-wall’ area, which may be more than the Loi Carrez area used in adverts.
The number of ‘rooms’ includes bathrooms and kitchens, not just bedrooms and living rooms, as in estate agents’ listings.
Properties are given a fiscal category for appearance and construction from 8, ‘dilapidated and defective’ to 1, ‘sumptuous’.
One deemed ordinary and unremarkable will be 6.
If something is wrong, tell the tax office (preferably via private message choosing J’ai une question sur le descriptive de mon bien immobilier).
State how property is used
You must say who was living in or using the property on January 1, 2023 (and since then if it changed), if it is a main or second home, is rented out, provided free to someone, or vacant (meaning unused and also unfurnished, therefore not available to use).
If you rent it out, you must say if it was provided furnished or unfurnished or if it is used for short-term holiday lets (as opposed to an ordinary long-term lease as someone's home).
Getting an online tax space
Anyone eligible for French income or property taxes has a numéro fiscal tax number (look at the top of a tax bill) and can have a website space.
You can access it with details from your last income tax statement if you pay income tax; if not, apply on this digital form. You need a scan of your passport. For birth department enter 99 if born abroad.
Alternatively, call 0809 401 401 with a tax bill to hand.
After the first words in French, press 0, then choose option 1, and again 1, to speak to an adviser. Tax offices can also help in person, as can branches of France Services.
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