Most local tax bills in France are lower but not all

Many residents will have been pleased to see their annual taxe d’habitation bill drop this autumn – as promised by President Macron – but others have complained of increases.

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Social media posts talk of people being “taken for idiots” after taxpayers were faced with “paying more when the media keeps telling us it’s going down”.

There are several reasons why some bills have gone up, despite promises of a 30% cut (to be followed by another in 2019 before full exemption) for most.

Firstly, your bill might have risen slightly due to the annual revaluation of its calculation base, the theoretical rental value.

Secondly, you might be one of an estimated 20% of households which earned too much in 2017 to benefit from the reduction.

It applies only if your revenu fiscal de référence (shown on this year’s avis d’imposition) was less than €27,000 for a single person or €43,000 for a couple.

It is also possible that some communes voted this year to remove certain optional tax reductions which can be applied across the board, or for those on low incomes or for people with disabilities.

Finally, 5,680 communes (about 15%) and 184 intercommunal bodies voted this year to put up the percentage rate that they apply to the ‘base’ value of your home, which in some cases was a steep enough hike to remove the benefit of the cut.

The government promised to compensate local councils “to the euro” for any revenue lost from the tax reduction, but it has based its compensation payments on last year’s tax bills.

That means any councils that increased bills this year will not get back all of the money they lost - because the cut for taxpayers (which does not apply to second homes) is 30% of this year’s bill.

The plans to reduce – and ultimately axe – the tax, which is paid by people living in France on January 1 of the year, have been unpopular with mayors because it takes away part of their budget flexibility making them more dependent on central government grants instead.

The Association des Mairies de France also said it was opposed to being put under a kind of “moral supervision” by the state after some tax bills were printed with notes clarifying that if the bill had gone up, it was due to the council raising the rates.