Filing your tax return in France

How to file a French tax return as an expat

Comments10 comments

Once you establish residency in France, you are liable to pay taxes in France on your income worldwide. Here's a guide to filing a French tax return as an expat and the relevant French tax forms.

The déclaration des revenus (French tax return) is the first step to paying your taxes in France. As an expat living in France, you will need to know the French tax regulations and learn how to file your French tax return online.

This guide provided by Elitax, a one-stop shop for assistance with French taxes, explains everything you need to file your French tax return, including which expenses can be deducted on your French tax form, such as childcare expenses, energy efficient technologies, or hiring domestic help.

Are you liable to pay French taxes?

Under French law, you are a resident in France for tax purposes if you meet any one of the following four conditions:

  • Your permanent home (habitual home for you and/or your family) is in France.
  • You spend most of your time in France (at least 183 days during a calendar year, or even less if you spend more time in France than in any other country).
  • Your professional activity is in France.
  • The centre of your economic or financial interest is in France.

How are taxes in France calculated?

French taxes are calculated on a calendar year basis. In order to comply with your French income tax reporting obligation, you must complete Form 2042 (the recapitulative form) and perhaps other forms depending on the source and type of income and expenses for the year.

Deadlines for filing your French tax return

Please note that the income tax declaration must be completed by the due date, which is generally sometime in May of the following year. The actual date can vary from one year to another. If you are not a first time filer, you also have the option to file online which gives you additional time to file. The French tax month (May) is known as La Declaration des Revenus.

It is very important to respect the filing deadlines. There will be a penalty assessed at 10% (majoration) for late filing.

For those who have already filed a French tax declaration and are already in the system, they should expect to receive a pre-printed (pré-remplie) tax form, with certain information filled in the form. This information will include salary amounts, bank interest, dividends etc. If the information provided in the pre-printed form is incorrect, you should cross out the erroneous figures and write in the correct figures. You will not receive a preprinted form if you opt to file your French tax return online.

For those who will require a form and have not received a pre-printed form, you can obtain forms at your local tax office (centre des impôts) or online by referring to the French tax authority website:

French tax return online

The French tax authorities are working to making filing French tax returns easier. For the time being, most people can choose between filing a paper declaration or an online French tax return, however, conditions exist.

If you have previously earned above a certain threshold (more than €28,000 in 2015) and have an internet connection, you will typically be required to file a French tax return online and could be fined if you don't. There is a fine of €15 if you fail to file online two years in a row (essentially allowing a one-year grace period to adapt).

The deadline for paper tax returns in 2018 is 16 May. By 2019, France plans to make online French tax return mandatory for all residents, except for those without an internet connection.

The deadlines to file a French tax return online vary between France's départements (101 regions in total) to avoid online congestion:

  • Départements 0 to 19 – 23 May (midnight)
  • Départements 20 to 49 – 30 May
  • Départements 50 and above – 6 June
  • Non-residents – 23 May

Elitax’s services span the full spectrum of tax advice, assistance, and support to meet the specific needs of the individual expatriate in France. Their primary focus is income and wealth tax returns, where they assist expats on positioning, preparation and processing of the returns during thorough personal consultations. Elitax also provides tax representation, tax training and tax audit support. 

French tax return: Declaring your income and deductions

Taxable income

As a French tax resident, you are taxed on your worldwide income. This will include salary, pensions, interest and dividends, rental and any other income.

Tax credits in France

There are several credits you can claim when calculating your tax bill in France. These include:

  • outside-the-home childcare for children under six (50% of cost, limited to €2,300 per child - maximum credit of €1,150 per child);
  • having school-age dependents (€61 per child for collège, €153 for lycée, or €183 for university);
  • installation of energy-saving technologies in the home (a chaudière à condensation or chaudière à basse temperature);
  • employing a domestic worker (frais d'emploi d'un salarié à domicile) – you may deduct 50% of the salary, up to a maximum credit of €6,000
  • giving money to a charitable organisation will provide for a deduction of either 75% (up to €530) or 66% of amount donated subject to further limitations depending on the charity;
  • child support costs as a result of a divorce judgement;
  • union fees.

Marriage / pacsé

If you are married, then you are likely to have to file a joint return for the entire year, with exceptions only allowed in limited circumstances. Your family return should also include your dependents (any children aged under 21, or students aged under 25).


In the year of divorce, each spouse needs to file a separate tax return as you are considered divorced for the entire year.

Spousal death

The overall rule is that you must fill out a déclaration for yourself from the date of death until 31 December; you have six months from the date of death to correctly fill out a joint déclaration from 1 January until the date of death.

French tax forms in English

It is not possible to fill in French tax forms in English. If you can't read and write in French, you can employ a translator or tax advisor to assist you. Some local French tax offices deliver sessions in English to help non-French speakers through the process of filing a French tax return.

French tax forms

There is not a single French tax form but rather additional forms for each type of income must be filled out to accompany your main French tax return form (Form 2042). If you have paid French taxes before, you will typically receive Form 2042 in the mail, on which you should list your worldwide income and gains.

Other French tax forms include:

  • Form 2042C – micro-entrepreneurs, complementary income and tax credits; it is also where you can offset tax paid in the UK or elsewhere.
  • Rental income is either declared in Form 2013 (furnished properties) or Form 2044 (unfurnished properties).
  • Form 2074 – capitals gains (profit) from the sale of any assets or investments
  • Form 2035 – BNC business earnings (régime réel)
  • Form 2031 – BIC business earnings (régime réel)
  • Form 2047 – for declaring any income earned from abroad, which also must be stated on Form 2042.
  • Form 3916 – for any bank accounts held abroad.

Paying your French taxes

Please note that you do not pay any amount with your declaration. Once this is received by the French tax authorities, they will calculate your tax and send you a bill (avis d'imposition), usually around mid- to late-August for the amount of taxes due. If you are a first time filer, you may get your tax bill as late as November or December of the year you filed.

Once you are in the system, the French tax authorities will use the previous year's income as a basis to calculate the following year's taxes. For example, if 2016 was the first year you filed you will be paying towards your 2017 French tax liability on the basis of your 2016 income.

The standard payment cycle is three installments but you can also put in place a monthly tax withholding arrangement either through an express request at your local tax office or by going online. For more information, read Expatica's guide to taxation in France.

Useful French tax terms

  • Abattement: standard deduction.
  • Avis de non-imposition: certificate of non-taxable income (you will receive this if your total income is under the taxable income threshold).
  • Barème fiscal: tax-rate table (sets out the amount of tax for a given amount of income).
  • Un contribuable: a taxpayer.
  • Un credit d'impôts: a tax credit or a reduction in tax generated by one of many tax saving schemes.
  • Un expert comptable: Accountant.
  • Conselliers fiscaux: Tax-advisors.
  • Foyer fiscal: tax household (the household is calculated in portions, parts. First and second children counts as ½ part; a third child counts as a full part. So a married couple with one child is a household of 2.5 parts; a married couple with three children has four parts. Even married children and grandchildren can be added to your tax household under specific conditions).
  • Impôts sur le revenu: income taxes (as opposed to property taxes, sales taxes, etc).
  • Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune: wealth tax. In October 2017 France slashed its wealth tax levied on people with earnings of more than €1.3m, and replaced it with a property levy ranging from 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent on the value of assets.
  • Prélèvements obligatoires: all social charges and sometimes this can include income taxes taken at source
  • TVA (taxe sur la valeur ajoutée): value-added tax or sales tax (it currently stands at 20% on all goods and services except those specifically exempted).
  • Revenu à déclarer: gross income.
  • Revenu imposable: taxable income after all deductions and credits are calculated.
  • Revenu foncier: rental income.

French tax authority websites

  •  Service-Public is the website of the French civil service and has detailed information on all aspects of personal and business taxation and social charges.
  • is the website of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, the body that collects income tax.
  • French tax return online.


Click to the top of this guide to French tax returns.



Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.

If you believe any of the information on this page is incorrect or out-of-date, please let us know. Expatica makes every effort to ensure its articles are as comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we're also grateful for any help! (If you want to contact Expatica for any other reason, please follow the instructions on this website's contact page.)

Captcha Note: Characters are case sensitive
The details you provide on this page will not be used to send any unsolicited e-mail, and will not be sold to a third party. Privacy policy .

3 Comments To This Article

  • irene posted:

    on 5th May 2012, 15:48:08 - Reply

    I'm with Michael and Darren. Actually SEEING the completed form would be a terrific help.
  • Darren posted:

    on 12th October 2011, 10:31:18 - Reply

    I agree with Michael! A translated or annotated form with some explanation as to where the info can be found would be great.
  • Michael posted:

    on 29th September 2010, 15:04:15 - Reply

    is it possible to put a déclaration des revenus form already filled out as an example so that we can see it and understand how to do it because some of us dont understand french enough to read the forms