Don’t Freak Out—There’s Time to Declare!
Volume XXI, Issue 26
The French government has everyone freaking out, for no good reason.
If you are the owner of one or more residential properties in France, since January 1, 2023, you are required to declare the status of these properties on the government’s website, from the “Manage my properties” area.
This obligation applies to all property owners, whether you’re a private individual or a company. You have until July 1st to do so. This is why everyone is freaking out, because making the declaration isn’t as easy as one might think. (Remember, nothing in France is simple or easy!)
On top of it, Americans are particularly worried about meeting their deadlines and telling the truth. It’s been drilled into us from birth, that our forefathers were “Honest Abe” and George Washington who “could not tell a lie.” We’re as honest a people as one can imagine, to the point of making ourselves sick with worry and guilt if we’re even 1% outside of the law. The French don’t have this problem since it’s near to impossible to follow all the rules set out before them. So, they’ve discovered “Système D,” a way of untangling the mess and “cheating” just a bit to make it actually work.
So, we are creating images in our heads of the government agents coming to get us out of our beds to deport us or worse, if our declarations aren’t in by the deadline. I can just see it…from all the emails we’ve gotten with questions on how to do the declaration when obstacles keep getting in our way.
For the Fisc, it’s a simple request: because the “taxe d’habitation” will be abolished for residences from 2023 onwards, they want “to determine precisely which owners are still liable for the taxe d’habitation (secondary residence, rental accommodation) or the taxe sur les logements vacants,” as indicated on this website.
According to the Public Finances Directorate General (DGFIP), 34 million property owners are concerned, for a total of 73 million residential premises in France. This is nothing to sneeze at! Whether the property in question is a primary or secondary residence, a rental property, or a vacant dwelling, owners will have to indicate “in what capacity they occupy the property and, if they do not occupy it themselves, declare the identity of the occupants and the period of occupancy as of January 1, 2023.”
In the event of non-declaration, error, omission or incomplete declaration, a lump-sum fine of 150€ per premises MAY Be imposed. “MAY” is the key word here.
The Ministry of the Economy and Finance has always assured us that it will be lenient with latecomers for this first year. “No fines will be sent this year. Reminders will be sent to owners who have not declared their property on time.”
As a reminder, your real estate declaration must be made on your personal space on the government website. Once logged in, click on the “Manage my properties” tab to validate your declaration, which is pre-filled. If you notice an error in the information concerning your property, you can report it to the tax authorities via the secure messaging system available in your personal space.
The key here is “Once logged in.” This is where so many of our clients have tried and failed. It ain’t easy. We who need to utilize French websites on a regular basis know their failings from our American straight-forward, no-nonsense, in-your-face way of developing a “user-friendly” website. We scream and curse on a regular basis trying to maneuver French sites without breaking into a sweat.
For example, note that if you own a property via an SCI (société civile immobilière), you must create a PROFESSIONAL SPACE before you can declare it. Who would have thought of that? On another note, the creation of this space is not automatic (duh!), and may take several weeks. Yikes! Weeks!?
Ha ha! If you haven’t already done so, it may already be too late to complete your declaration in time. In this case, you can contact the tax authorities via the secure messaging system on the government site (good luck finding it) to let them know that you have indeed requested the creation of a professional space.
But don’t panic, they will be lenient with latecomers. In fact, there is a new deadline imposed: it is possible to make the declaration without penalty up to and including July 31, 2023!
Originally, the deadline for the 34 million property owners to submit their declarations online was set for tomorrow, June 30th. However, with only one week remaining before the final cutoff, slightly over 50% of tax filers had completed their filings. Anticipating a surge of last-minute declarations, the Fisc made an announcement on Friday stating that individuals would be able to submit their declarations without incurring any penalties for another month.
I’ll bet that will be extended, too!
Just a reminder, starting from 2023, the final installment of the taxe d’habitation has been abolished exclusively for main residences. This means that owners of second homes are still required to pay this tax, as well as the tax on vacant dwellings if applicable. The purpose of this year’s property declaration is to establish the basis for local taxes and cross-check the information with other household declarations to prevent fraud.
This new and unfamiliar tax obligation has left taxpayers perplexed. Particularly foreign owners like our clients. Furthermore, the mandatory online submission adds to the complexity, unlike the option to submit the income tax return in paper form. In a recent press release, the Solidaires-Finances Publiques union criticized the administration’s decision to conduct a digital-only campaign, which has led to confusion among taxpayers and an increase in incivility. Duh!
Jérôme Fournel, the Director General of Public Finances, acknowledges that this tax obligation, like any other, raises questions. He mentioned that the number of inquiries received by the DGFIP agents on this matter has risen by approximately 20%.
I thought it would have been more than that!
The bottom line: DON’T WORRY. Even if you are very late and assessed the fine, will you still eat three meals a day?
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. If you want assistance making your declaration, contact us by email and Matthieu Duclos will be able to manage it for you at a small fee. Be sure to tell him you are our reader!