Disclaimer: I am not a tax expert, nor a lawyer. All information in this post is from my research on this topic. All opinions in this post are my own from my experiences and said research. I just like sharing my knowledge of what I’ve gleaned from every corner of the web with you so you won’t have to. If you have any questions, please reach out to a professional. They are there for a reason.
Here's what it's all about
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know when it comes to filing your US taxes as an American living abroad (you can check that out here), we’ll move on to Filing French Taxes as an American living in France.
Understanding the French Tax System
The tax system in France is pretty straight forward. You are taxed based on your income, at a certain percentage (we’ll go over those later) and you declare these taxes once a year. For the 2022 tax season, the doors officially open on April 7, 2022. If it is your first year declaring taxes in France, you will need to do so by paper. Once you’ve made your first declaration, you will allowed to do your future declarations online through their portal.
Are you a tax resident?
In order to be considered for paying taxes, you need to be a tax resident. This means that you need to spend a minimum of 183 days in France as well as consider France as your main residence.
If you are a foreign national, you will need to look into your country of origin and see if they have a tax treaty set up with France. This does not necessarily mean you do not need to pay taxes, it may simply mean that you need to file a declaration.
Thresholds and Tax Brackets
Tax returns in France are usually filed by household (although you can file individually even if you’re married). That means there is only one tax declaration per family/household. A household for tax purposes is considered the tax payer + spouse + dependents (if applicable).
The threshold for the 2021 tax filing year are as follows:
- up to 9 710€: 0%
- 9 710€ to 26 818€: 14%
- 26 818€ to 71898€: 30%
- 71 898€ to 152 260€: 41%
- 152 260€ and more: 45%
Figuring out what you owe may seem complicated, but the math is pretty simple, here’s how I understand it: Each household is broke down into units (or shares). Each adult is worth 1 unit and each child/dependent is worth 1/2 share. The total of the net income is divided by the number of units in the family. So we can better understand this, let’s take up a completely imaginary couple, let’s say the Rothschild family is Mr. R. & Mrs. R. That’s 2 units for the family and they made a combined net income of 40,000€ last year. Take the 40,000 and divide that by 2. You’ve now got 20,000€. The first 9,710€ is not taxed (because the threshold is 0%. From there you need to find what’s left over: 20,000€ – 9,710€ = 10,290€. This is then multiplied by the 14% from the next tax bracket. Which is 1,440.60€. Are you still with me? The final step is to multiply the 1,440.60€ by the number of household units, which is 2. This will give you 2,881.20€ in taxes on the net income. Did I loose you?
Important dates to remember for filing
The day the online portal opens for declaring 2021 taxes is Thursday, April 7, 2022. A tax year in France is considered from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. If you have arrived to France after December 31, 2021, you do not need to worry about declaring taxes for the 2021 season.
If you’re returning your tax declaration by mail, it must be posted by Thursday, May 19, 2022.
If you live in départements (counties) 1-19 and those outside of the French territory your deadline for declaration is Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
If you are in départements (counties) 20-54 your deadline for declaration is Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
If you are in départements (counties) 50-101 and French overseas territories your deadline for declaration is Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Declaring for the first time
Declaring for the first time does not have to be frightening.
From this year (2022), you will be able to make your first declaration online (not on paper like in the past). But first, you will need to be able access your online account. If you have not received any communication from Public Finances detailing your next steps, there are 3 ways to go about gaining access to your online portal on the impots website:
- Going to your local public finance center (aka SIP).
- Mailing the filled-in form 2043-SD to the General Directorate of Public Finances.
- Submitting a request online through the online portal here.
Once you’ve submitted your request, you will be granted a numéro fiscal (a tax ID number) in order to create your online account. And you are now ready to start your first declaration !
If you are unable to submit your declaration online, you are able to print out formula 2042 and mail it in or submit it to your local public finance center. Also be extremely mindful of the deadline for mailing in your tax declaration (see above section about important deadlines).
Please be mindful of any supplementary documentation you may need to provide with your declaration; particularly any documents relating to your living situation.
And please do not forget that the information contained in the post is strictly from my personal research and interpretation of the tax system here in France. I am not a certified tax professional nor a legal professional. If you are looking for legal tax advice, I suggest you look towards a certified and legal professional.