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What you should know about France’s two tax deadlines on Wednesday

December 15th marks two important tax deadlines in France. Here's what you need to know.

A man counts his money. Important tax deadlines are coming up in France.
Important tax deadlines are coming up in France. (Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash)

Deadline for correcting income tax declaration

The deadline to declare your 2020 earnings has now passed. But if you made a mistake in filing your tax return online, you have up until December 15th to change the following details: the number of people in your care; whether you have paid a TV license fee; your revenue; your expenses; your tax credits; and the tax paid on property fortunes (IFI) worth more than €1.3 million. 

You can make these changes via your personal account on the impots.gouv.fr website. 

If you sent your tax return by post and made a mistake, you will have to amend any of these details in writing. Further details can be found here.  

If there is a minor error in your tax declaration, you will likely receive a letter asking you to repay the outstanding sum – without a penalty.

Significant errors on the other hand, you will be asked to repay the outstanding amount with a monthly rate of interest, meaning that the amount you have to pay increases more the longer you fail to do so. For blatant tax fraud, there are significant financial penalties and possible imprisonment.  

Deadline for paying vacant property tax

In certain communes, you must pay a tax if you own a property that has been unoccupied for an extended period of time. The deadline to pay this tax is December 15th.  

If your property is in a zone tendue (a commune with more than 50,000 residents that has a housing shortage), you must pay the taxe sur logements vacants (TLV). You can find a list of the relevant communes HERE. The tax applies if the property has been unoccupied for a year or more. 

The TLV to be paid is fixed 12.5 percent of the value of the property during the first year that remains unoccupied. It rises to 25 percent in the following years that the property remains vacant. A further 9 percent of the TLV must be paid as a “management fee” to the French tax authorities. 

If your property is not in a zone tendue, you might have to pay the taxe d’habitation sur les logements vacants (THLV). This only applies to you if your commune has voted to enact this tax. It concerns properties that have been vacant for two years or more.

As with the TLV, you do not need to pay this tax if you have stayed in the accommodation for more than 90 consecutive days in a year; have put it on the rental market; or are doing building work worth at least 25 percent of the property value. If you are already paying the taxe d’habitation, you do not need to pay the THLV

There is an online simulator that tells you whether or not your property is situated in a zone tendue. There are various exemptions to these taxes available on the service-public.fr website

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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