Although ordinary members of the public do not have to submit any supporting documents to the tax office with their annual declaration, you should keep any important ones relating to income declared for at least three years, which is the usual time period in which the tax office could come back to you for clarification.
Having said this, the recommended time limits for keeping documents, to be on the safe side from any legal issues, vary according to the type of document:
One year: Telephone and internet bills; Letter revising the amount of rent of a property (one year after end of the rental).
Two years: Insurance documents including old contracts (for two years after the end of the contract); Bills for minor work on the home; Old loan contracts (for two years after the loan is paid off).
Three years: Documents related to your income declaration should be kept for three years from the year following the year of the declaration – for example, the end of 2020 for the declaration of 2016 income in spring 2017. This includes receipts for your expenses if you claim frais réels; Avis d’imposition tax statements for the local property taxes (taxe foncière and habitation); Rental contract, inventory (état des lieux), rent receipts (for three years after end of the rental period, for a rental of a main home).
Five years: Bank statements; cheque stubs; Allocations familiales statements; Gas, electricity or water bills.
10 years: Bills for structural work on the home; Minutes of copropriété meetings and documents related to dealings with the syndic of your building (if you live in a flat).
Until retirement: Pay slips, work contracts for previous employment, and certificats de travail.
For life: Divorce or adoption rulings; Marriage contract; Livret de famille; Pension payment slips; Property deeds; Anything related to état civil (births, deaths etc)
This question was answered by Olaf Muscat Baron who is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Accountants UK, a French expert comptable and an International tax advisor. He is the principal accountant of Fiscaly, an accountancy firm based in the Dordogne.
See www.fiscaly.fr or call 09 81 09 00 15