An income tax return is a form (paper or online) on which you provide details of your taxable income and, where applicable, capital gains, and on which you equally claim tax reliefs.
The French tax authorities through public finance centers issues tax returns every tax year between mid-April and early May. The tax year runs from January to December of the calendar year.
If you receive a tax return, the law stipulates that you must complete it.
The administration uses information on your tax return to calculate your tax bill or determine if you are entitled to a tax refund.
Who must complete an income tax return in France
All French taxable persons, with the exception of children who are attached to the tax residence of their parents.
All economic agents (private individuals or legal entities participating in the economic activity) have to pay taxes in France. Economic agents paying taxes are called taxpayers, while taxpayers are those who actually bear the burden of tax.
Those who avoid the income tax in reason of a low revenue equally have to submit a return in order to receive a notice of non-taxation, which may be required to obtain tax benefits or housing assistance.
Since 2016, the non-tax notice has been replaced by the Income Tax Declaration Notice (Asdir).
In 2019, the tax administration will introduce the levy at source, which aims to adapt the collection of the tax to the events of life without modifying the rules of calculation.
The principle of withholding tax system (or Pay as You Earn) is to deduct the amount of tax directly from the taxable income. Deductions from salaries, pensions and other similar income (unemployment, pension, etc.) will therefore be done by a third-party payer at the time of payment. This role of collector will be ensured by the employer (company or association) for the employees, by the pension funds, Pôle Emploi and the Primary health insurance fund for the beneficiaries of replacement income (retirement, unemployment benefit, , Etc.).
However, the tax authorities will issue annual income tax returns if you:
- Are self-employed
- Are business leaders
- Have rental income or other property income
- Have other income that is not taxed before you get it and the tax can not be collected by the levy-at-source system.
If you are retired: you must complete and send your tax returns.
It should be noted that if persons not domiciled in France have income from French sources or at least one residence in France, they must also file an income tax return. (Learn more about taxation of non-residents here)
If you have not received an income tax return
If you have not received an income tax return, but feel you need to fill out a tax return, contact the local public finance office and ask for a return to receive one. Do not wait for the tax administration to contact you. If you are sending the late tax return, you will be charged 10% penalties and late payments.
You can consult all the tax news on the website: impot.gouv.fr/
Paper or Internet?
You can fill out your tax return on paper or online at impots.gouv.fr.
In 2016, tax filing becomes mandatory for some taxpayers. Users who opt for Internet filing have an additional time limit with respect to the filing deadline.
Deadline for depositing of income tax return
There are different dates for sending paper and tax returns online. These dates are called the filing dates. Generally, taxpayers will have until Mid May to send their paper return to the tax authorities.
Those who need or want to register online have an additional time period depending on their department of residence.
There are penalties for sending a late tax return.
After the deadline for filing the return, you are subject to a 10% mark-up applied to the tax you will have to pay. These penalties may be increased to 40% if the declaration has not been filed within 30 days of the first formal notice by the tax authorities and 80% if the situation has not been regularized within 30 days of the second warning.
The paper return
As long as you send your paper return before the deadline, the tax authority will guarantee the calculation of your tax bill and communicate you the taxable amount before the payment date of the tax year. The tax authority calculates the tax bill for each income tax return it processes. However, if you file a late return, you are no longer assured of receiving the return on time.
You can declare online from any computer or tablet by logging on to the official tax website impots.gouv.fr and then visiting your private area.
You can also declare from your account opened on my.service-public.fr. Simply create an “account link” that allows you to switch to your personal tax space. Then, you can access your return from your My-Public account without re-entering your credentials. If you do not have any changes or additions to your return, you can declare via the Internet in three clicks.
In this case, you can also send your declaration by smartphone, by downloading the free application “impots.gouv”. It also allows you to pay your taxes and change your due dates.
Your tax bill will be calculated automatically and you will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your income tax return.
By law, you must keep the records you need to complete a correct tax return. If your return is incomplete and you are then recognized as a taxpayer, you may have to pay penalties.
What income to report?
Among the income to be mentioned in one’s tax return, there are of course those that make up the taxable revenue, that is to say:
- The fixed remuneration paid by the employer and the increase in overtime
- The so-called “salary accessory” items, such as the 13th month and the seniority bonus.
- Benefits received in the event of unemployment or early retirement must also be reported to the tax authorities.
- The other categories of income which are also subject to income tax are: pensions and life annuities, income from securities and capital, capital gains, income from land as well as the remuneration of certain directors of companies (EARL and EIRL among others).
Please note that not all incomes are reported. Those who are exempt must not be included in the income tax return.