Fines will not be issued this year for failing to complete the obligatory new biens immobiliers residential property declaration on time, the head of the service has told The Connexion.
“We will be easy-going as it’s a new reform,” said Sandrine Majorel-Delage.
Fines of €150 are, in theory, possible for non-compliance.
Even so, she told readers they should meet the legal June 30 deadline but they do not need to worry about possible minor errors with property descriptions.
Rather, the key point this year is to declare how the property is occupied, she said.
This means declaring whether it is a main or second home, rented out or vacant (unfurnished and unused).
Issues to do with the description, which is prefilled but must be checked, can be ironed out later, she said.
People should ideally use a private message in their online personal space for this or otherwise contact their local centre des impôts foncier (details can be searched online).
More than 150,000 calls about new declaration
The tax services have received more than 150,000 calls about the new declaration, most often concerning the surface area displayed or the number of rooms.
She said they had emailed 16.5 million members of the public to alert them of the requirement – 34 million owners in total are estimated to have to complete the form.
In comparison, she said, the calls received were "limited” and the queries were “perfectly manageable".
E-mails were sent to all property owners, including non-residents, for whom the tax services had contact emails, she said. Adverts had also been run and communications placed on online forums.
Decided from start to translate into English
“We also decided, from the start, to translate the whole online service into English,” she said.
The most significant ‘bug’ has been that some online spaces still showed a ‘declaration expected’ label, despite this having been completed.
This is now reported to be fixed.
With regard to size and rooms, tax offices have always used different definitions than estate agents: for example, ‘rooms’ also include walled-off kitchens and bathrooms.
Loi Carrez surface area rules for flats do not apply but rather ‘real area’, often slightly larger.
If you believe a significant mistake has been made, you should contact the local centre des impôts foncier.
In some cases the surface area shown may not include, for example, an extension.
Extensions, as well as pools and other new facilities, should have been declared to the tax services on tax form 6704 within 90 days of completion, so the tax services can take account of any increase in value (if significant, this can affect the amount of the local property taxes).
If changes were not declared, contact the tax office
If there is any issue with this, tax offices will look at people's situations case by case.
“Users should send us a private message to explain and it will be sorted out,” she said.
The new online declaration has replaced other checks, including a paper form that used to be sent by tax offices to landlords to confirm occupation of their properties.
Taxe d’habitation has been abolished on main homes, so the new system aims to ensure tax offices have up-to-date information about properties still subject to this (for example, second homes) or to the tax on vacant properties.
Ms Majorel-Delage confirmed, however, that properties that cannot be subject to these taxes are not involved.
This includes those exclusively used for holiday letting, that are never available for personal use and are subject only to CFE business tax.
Asked if staffing had been increased to deal with queries, she said it was actually the opposite.
Fewer staff now assigned
Fewer staff are now assigned to property use updates as the taxe d’habitation is no longer applicable to most families.
The new online method is intended to simplify the procedures.
“The user is now at the heart of the system and the one who updates the details of how their property is occupied.
Our Gérer mes biens immobilier section allows users to make all their tax-related declarations concerning property online.
“It should simplify their life and allow them to complete their obligations in the most personalised way possible.
“The route through the site is adapted to each person.”
Once validated, the declaration can be reopened and corrected, she said.
However, usually there is no need for further action unless the use of the property changes.
No paper alternative
Ms Majorel-Delage said there is no paper alternative but, if necessary, the declaration can be done by phone: on 0809 401 401 if you are in France, or by calling the tax office where the property is located if you are abroad.
All property owners have a French tax number and can set up an online space from home.
For non-residents, it can be created here giving details including surname at birth, surname you currently use, birth country (in French – use Royaume-Uni for the UK) and birth department (insert 99 if outside France).
A phone number is optional.
This generates an email to which you must attach a scan of ID, such as your passport.
In the next few days you should receive an email from the tax office allowing you to log into your space at impots.gouv.fr using your tax number and birth date.
In case of problems
In case of problems with this, non-residents can contact the non-residents’ tax service on 01 72 95 20 42 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The service can notably help with setting up an account.
Some readers have queried how to declare a second home that is also used for occasional holiday lets when not in use by the owners for themselves.
Ms Majorel-Delage and the head of the non-residents’ tax service, Agnès Arcier, said that in this case the usage should be given as seasonal letting.
It is not necessary to give the names of tenants for this.
In the case of a property owned by an SCI property ownership company (or any business/company, including one abroad), the biens immobiliers declaration can be completed by one member, using a professional space on the site.
The declaration focuses on how the property was occupied on January 1, 2023, plus changes since, such as a new tenant.
Concerning the starting date for the occupation, she advised putting the real start date, especially when the property has been let, though she said it is possible for owner-occupiers to leave the default date of January 1, 2023.