It’s tax time in France. Any day now our avis d’imposition for income tax will arrive, but in the meantime we have our taxe foncière bill to groan over. This arrived with a heavy thunk in our mailbox the other day. It’s gone up by €600 euro this year. Mega ouch. The main culprit is the swimming pool. I had actually thought that would only have an impact on our taxe d’habitation, which will be coming soon too. How wrong I was.
So what exactly are these taxes? Well, income tax, impôt sur le revenu, is obvious enough. However, less than 50% of people pay that in Creuse, which is generally an area of low income. The French system spreads the tax burden over the number of ‘parts’ in your household. We’re a household of five but constitute four parts. Partners, married or otherwise, are a part each, the first two kids are half a part each, and subsequent children are a whole part. Your taxable earnings are divided by your number of parts, which is a pretty fair system I think. It means families on low incomes don’t get hammered.
The other two taxes I mentioned are property taxes. They’re collected centrally but distributed to the local communes and your departément to cover things like schools, refuse collection, street lighting, local facilities etc. You pay these taxes whether you’re resident in France or not i.e. they’re payable on permanent and holiday homes alike. Taxe foncière, the more expensive of the two, is payable by the owner, taxe d’habitation by the occupier. So if you’re an owner-occupier, you pay both. These taxes vary substantially from région to région and are calculated according to some sort of notional rental value of your property, the valeur locative cadastrale.
The taxe foncière has two components; taxe foncière bati and taxe foncière non-bati. These relate respectively to the buildings and to the land that belong to your property. Any changes you make, such as renovations, central heating, building an in-ground pool, will push the tax up. Now, learn from our mistake. I have only just discovered in the course of doing research for this article that you can get an exemption from paying extra taxe foncière on your pool if you submit form 6704 IL within 90 days of completing the work. I’m cross. I sent in the declaration saying we’d finished our pool, but the fonctionnaire on the receiving end didn’t think to write back to let us know that we could apply for this exemption. He/she was too busy working out much extra could be slapped on our taxes. I think it’s pretty shabby not to at least inform you of your right to make such a claim.
You can query your assessment if you think it’s too high. I may go in to chat about ours, if only to make sure it’s not going to keep on going up by €600 a year. Up to now, it had gone up about €100, which was already more than enough.
This French website gives more info about the whole concept of taxe foncière.
I’ll return to the theme of taxes, no doubt energetically, when our taxe d’habitation bill arrives!