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Volume XX, Issue 15

A roaring fire in an old stone fireplace in a house in France

HOT TOPIC ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: INHERITANCE TAX

We now know that either our new French President will be incumbent Emmanuel Macron or the far right candidate, Marie Le Pen. Both have pledged to change the French inheritance tax laws to make it easier for assets to be donated or passed down to the heirs. I am not unhappy about this!

While both have very different views on policies, that are opposing on just about everything, both want to realign the French inheritance tax laws by reducing the tax rate.

The headstone on a gravesite in a cemetary in France

Le Pen said, “It is perfectly normal to be able to pass one’s assets and the fruits of one’s labor to one’s children.” No one can disagree with that, including Emmanuel Macron…and me.

Technically, Macron wants families to be able to bequeath up to 100,000€ indirectly without any tax. In today’s world, only 15,932€ can be left tax free to a brother or sister; the inheritance being taxed at 45 percent from 24,430€ and up. Inheritance to a nephew or niece is even more difficult with only 7,967€ exempt from tax. Any additional euros being taxed will be at 55 percent. While blended families are more and more the norm, the bequeathment to a stepchild is also very complicated—only the modest sum of 1,594€ is exempt from tax. Beyond that, a rate of 60 percent applies.

Meme for the North American Expats in France Financial forum, 2nd QuarterIn my book, this is way too much! And the assessment is based on the current value of the property. So, as it is now, my own daughter might have to sell the apartment she grew up in just to pay the tax! In fact, I have a team of experts checking into it for me and that team of experts is going to be discussing this at length at our upcoming North American Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum—2nd Quarter—on May 4th!

So, don’t miss it!

North American Expats in France Quarterly Financial Forum—2nd Quarter—on May 4th at 1 p.m. EDT (Eastern), 7 p.m. CEST (France) when we will be talking about Inheritance Tax Issues in France—how to minimize or eliminate them for your heirs!

Learn more and register in advance for this webinar by clicking here.

TURN UP THE HEAT

On February 16th, the French government announced the extension of the gas rate shield for households living in condominiums and equipped with collective heating.

After several weeks of discussions between gas suppliers, heating companies, heating networks and representatives of property managers on the operational implementation of the scheme, the detailed terms and conditions were published this Sunday, April 10, 2022, by Decree No. 2022-514.

In 2021, the French faced a real explosion of the regulated gas tariff applied on most contracts of individual consumers. Between January 1, 2021 and October 30, 2021, the increase in the rate reached nearly 57 percent, which had a heavy impact on consumers’ bills! Faced with the soaring gas prices and the concern of the continuation of this increase, the government has implemented a tariff shield which consists of freezing the regulated gas tariff at its price of October 2021.

A gas range in a kitchin in an apartment in Paris

This price freeze is currently planned until June 30, 2022 and benefits all households equipped with an individual gas boiler. Large consumers, and in particular co-ownerships with a collective gas heating system, have not had the option of subscribing to a regulated tariff contract for several years. Some condominiums, due to their configuration and the strategy implemented, have subscribed to “fixed rate” contracts, and are today only slightly affected by the evolution of prices, apart from the effects linked to the harshness of winter.

However, many condominiums have a “market price” contract indexed on indices that continued to evolve exponentially after October. These are the ones who have seen their gas bills soar since December!

A strong mobilization of unions and associations regrouping real estate professionals, notably Plurience, led to the extension of the tariff shield for condominiums. In concrete terms, condominiums with a contract indexed to the regulated tariff will benefit, in the same way as private consumers, from the cap on the cost of gas according to the regulated tariff of October 2021. The government will pay an aid to the energy supplier, who will be responsible for redistributing it to the co-ownership. This aid is retroactive to the bills issued since November 1, 2021 and must extend until June 30, 2022. The only remaining difficulty to date lies in the advance payment of the costs by the co-ownership, pending the payment of the aid by the energy supplier.

Condominiums receiving heating through a district heating network have not been forgotten; they will also be covered by the payment of the various grants!

For more information, contact your building’s Syndic.

HOT ON HOUSING

There’s a serious housing shortage in France, but the one we are personally experiencing is from the multitude of requests we get for housing by visitors who wish to come for one month or more. People who regularly come to France are finding it more and more difficult to secure an apartment for just about any length of time, and that’s because of the strict laws governing short-term rentals in Paris, Nice and now growing all over France.

An apartment for rent sign on the balcony of an apartment in Paris

At one time, there were more short-term properties than we could imagine and the city officials were quick to blame the housing shortage in France on them. That doesn’t mean they are right about that! In fact, they are not—as article after article on the subject outlines a long list of reasons, including rules of urban planning that reduce access to land, cost of construction having risen 50 percent in the last 10 years, rules controlling real estate investment reducing the number of investors and high taxation on new construction!

Short-term rentals actually provide housing for those who are more transient, whether they be tourists or part-time residents or people in need of temporary housing for a variety of reasons. With the rental laws having reduced this inventory, it has actually created more unused vacancy that benefits no one, and more difficulty for those in need to secure housing.

An example of an apartment for rent in Paris

And personally, I just don’t understand why urban planners don’t understand that we now live in a world where people want the freedom to live anywhere at any time because they can, with remote working. This butting of heads—the people who want their residents to be stationary and permanent colliding with those who want to live in a multitude of places—is going to get worse before it gets better, all depending on which side of the fence you’re on.

For all of you who would like to own a property that generates an income to cover costs and is fearful of the rental laws, I’d like to remind you that no one can tell you who you let stay in your apartment. You are certainly entitled to invite anyone you wish, and the only thing that separates them from a tenant is a lease. If you are seeking a long-term rental, that carries with it a 30-day cancellation, we can help you find it! See our website for more information.

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds in a yellow top and rainbow colored earringsAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Curious about who will be presenting at our next Aprés-Midi? You don’t have to wait until we announce it, you can look into the future right now! Visit our Aprés-Midi page to find out who will be there in 2022.

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