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Tax advantage for garden in France help

We are a retired British couple who moved to France full-time last year. We would like help with our garden (clearing leaves and other general maintenance) and have heard that there is a tax advantage for this. Can you explain what we need to do?

All households registered in the French tax system can benefit from a move to increase the use of people offering personal services and thus get more people working in full employment.

These so-called Services à la personne cover work in diverse sectors including simple ironing, helping care for a handicapped person or, indeed, picking up leaves from the garden. They have the advantage of offering a tax break (called a crédit d’impôt) to help ease the cost of employing someone.

To benefit, you need to employ someone in your home – or pay an agency to bring someone in – and their work can be regular or occasional. If employing directly, a simple way to pay, and to include the necessary social charges at the same time, is to use the Cesu déclaratif system. With this you can register online at cesu.urssaf.fr and pay your worker by cheque or bank transfer.

Costs covering pay plus social charges (or in the case of an agency, the bill paid) can be put against tax up to a limit of €12,000 plus an extra €1,500 for each person over 65 to an upper limit of €15,000. People who employ someone directly rather than using an agency and who are first-time employers can benefit from a higher limit of up to €18,000.

However, in your case, there is a reduced limit on what can be claimed for gardening work, with an upper limit of €5,000. Similarly, there is a €3,000 limit for help with computer repairs and €500 for handyman repairs.

This gives the right to a 50% crédit d’impôt of your costs – so, up to €2,500. The bonus of the crédit d’impôt is that if your tax bill is less than the credit you will be reimbursed the excess.

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

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