The tax return
Just arrived in France and wondering how to deal with the French tax system?
A tax return is a document listing the income received by an individual during the previous year. It also includes details on the individual’s family circumstances as well as any dependents.
It enables the French tax authorities to calculate the tax payable by a person residing in France or receiving income from French sources, also referred to as a taxpayer.
On the basis of the information provided, an income tax demand is sent by the tax authorities to the taxpayer once their income tax liability exceeds a certain threshold. The statement details the amount of tax payable for the previous year.
The tax return is also used to identify individuals with financial interests in France who are not subject to pay income tax. An income tax exemption statement is sent to all those who are not liable.
You may need to provide these documents for certain administrative procedures in France.
One tax return per household
Tax is calculated according to household income, so you only need to complete one tax return per family. Each household may include the following:
- Taxpayer and their spouse (married or in a civil partnership)
Married couples and those in a civil partnership may decide to complete an individual tax return.
Individuals who have just arrived in France must fill out a paper form covering their first year in the country. They may declare their taxes online from the following year once they have received login details to create their own account on the government tax website www.impots.gouv.fr (all relevant tax return forms are available on this website).
The tax return form for members of the same household is Cerfa no. 2042, which is updated every year to reflect changes published in the annual French Government Budget Act.
You can find forms for different types of income (property, capital gains, overseas income, etc.) in the appendix.
All tax returns must be signed and dated.
Other types of tax forms that might prove useful include:
- Supplementary income declaration (2042-C)
- Supplementary self-employment declaration (2042-C-PRO)
- Tax credit and tax relief declaration (2042-RICI)
You can find the terms and conditions for declaring income earned in France in our ‘How to fill out your first tax return’ section.
Deadlines for tax declarations
Tax returns must be filed every year between mid-April and the end of May, or the beginning of June for those who are making an online declaration. In the latter case, the deadline depends on exactly where in France you live.
The tax authorities then send out tax demands in the second half of the year.
For French tax residents, the introduction of withholding tax, i.e., a method where tax is collected the moment income is received, has no bearing on the need to complete an income tax return each year.