In France, taxes are levied by the government, and collected by the public administrations.

French “public administrations” are made up of three different institutions :

  • The central government, i.e. the national government or the state (“l’État”) strictly speaking, plus various central government bodies. It has a separate budget (general budget, special Treasury accounts, special budgets). It collects most of the taxes.
  • Local governments, which include agencies with limited territorial jurisdiction, such as local authorities, local public establishments, chambers of commerce and all public or quasi-public bodies financed primarily by local governments. They collect many taxes, but their weight is rather limited compared to that of central government.
  • Social security association (ASSO), is private organizations endowed with a mission of public service (even though they behave to a large extent like public administrations). Their budget is made up of all mandatory social security funds (general scheme, unemployment insurance schemes, complementary retirement funds and welfare benefit funds, funds for the liberal professions and agricultural funds, special employee schemes) and the agencies financed by such funds (social works, public and private sector hospitals contributing to public hospital services and financed from an aggregate operating grant). They are mostly financed by social contributions, collected for the sole purpose of social welfare.

Taxes in France are made up of taxes in the narrow meaning of the word, plus social security contributions. Most of the taxes are collected by the government and the local collectivities, while the social deductions are collected by the Social Security. There is a distinction to be made between taxes (impôts), which applies to production, importations, wealth and incomes, and social contributions (cotisations sociales), which are part of the total wage paid by an employer when he remunerates an employee. Taxes and contributions together are called in French prélèvements obligatoires.

Subject to French tax are people having their tax domicile in France, i.e. natural or legal persons either living in France, i.e. who have their homes or their principal residence in France; working in France; having the center of their economic interests in France. Only one of these criteria is sufficient for a person to be treated as taxable.

Despite a downward trend registered since 1999, the tax burden in 2007 (43.3% of GDP) remains at a high level, both historically and in comparison with other countries. OECD countries have experienced an increase in the tax burden since the mid-60s comparable to that of France, rising from 25% of the GDP in 1965 to 36% in 2005. That of the countries of the European Union has increased by nearly 12 percentage points of GDP over the period. Efforts to control the increase in the tax burden have been made by the states of the OECD: the tax rate decelerated during the 90s and has decreased slightly since 2000. This is why France continues to be among the OECD countries whose tax rate is the highest. Taxes account for 45% of GDP against 37% on average in OECD countries.

The overall rate of social security and tax on the average wage in 2005 was 71.3% of gross salary, the highest of the OECD. The levels of social security contributions are particularly high (16.3% of revenue against 9.4% in average for OECD). The social security budgets are larger than the budget of the national government. The budgets of both the national government and of social security organizations run deficits.

Part of each tax in the total tax revenue, without the social contributions.


There are many taxes in France. They can be classified according to the institution which collects and benefit from them and to the people who pay them. Taxes are monetary benefits imposed on people according to their capacities and without return of benefit, for the purpose of public expenditure to achieve economic and social goals set by the government. As for tariffs, they are different from taxes because of their strictly economic aspect; their purpose is to protect the domestic market. However, some charges levied by the customs administration are taxes: the value added tax levied on goods from non-members of the European Union, the tax on petroleum products, which applies regardless of the origin of products, and other taxes. Finally, although they are compulsory, social security contributions are not taxes as they are collected for one purpose – social protection – and as the taxpayers might benefit from these expenses. Some other taxes, based on personal income, are allocated to social agencies and do not give taxpayers the right to benefit from them.

Taxes on production and importation

These taxes, collected by public administrations or by the institutions of the EU, apply to the production and the consumption of goods and of services. These taxes are independent from profits. They include taxes on the products and others taxes on the production. The taxes on the production cover essentially the taxe professionnelle, the taxe foncière and the versement transport (the professional tax, tax land and the payment transport), which apply to the use of labor and the property or the use of land, buildings and other assets used for the sake of production. They are local taxes, so they arenot collected by the central government (see Local taxes). Taxes on consumption traditionally consisted of indirect duties on the consumption and excise duties, applying only on the use of certain products (alcoholic beverages, manufactured, tobacco products and energy products). However, the establishment of the VAT and its generalization have considerably reduced the scope and thus the revenue of these indirect duties and excise duties even if one of them, the tax on petroleum products, is still considerable. The revenue from the excise duties amounted in 2007 to €2.7 bn, without the TIPP.

Value-Added Tax (VAT)

In order to establish a single market made up of the member states of the European Union, a number of directives on VAT has been enacted since 1967, with the obligation for states to adapt their domestic legislation. The rules relating to the scope, the tax base, the payment, the territoriality of goods and services as well as reporting requirements are partially harmonized, but states can apply transitional arrangements in respect of rates, exemptions and rights of deduction, whose rules are being harmonized.

The VAT is a general consumption tax, which applies to goods and services located in France. It is a proportional tax on output collected by the companies and ultimately completely supported by the final buyer, i.e. the consumer, since it is included in the price of goods or services. Indeed, VAT is applied to the “added value”, i.e. the added value to the product or service at each stage of production or marketing, so that at the end of the economic circuit, the overall tax burden corresponds to the tax calculated on the final price paid by the consumer. The current standard rate is at 20%. Two reduced rates exist: a 7% rate for books and restaurant meals, and 5.5% for most groceries. A specific rate of 2.1% applies only to prescription drugs covered by Social Security. The net revenue of VAT in 2008 is €126 bn.

Tax on petroleum products

The taxe intérieure sur les produits pétroliers (TIPP) applies to petroleum products according to fixed rates provided by the legislation. It applies only in metropolitan France — in the overseas territories, there is a special consumption tax (TSC) on premium unleaded and diesel. It applies to motor fuels and heating fuels, such as petrol and gasoline, electricity, natural gas, coal and coke. In the face of the rise in oil prices, a reduction in the rate of the TIPP for fuel sold to consumers was adopted by the Parliament in 2006. The TIPP is collected by the services de la direction générale des douanes et des droits indirects (DGDDI) when petroleum products are consumed on the domestic market. The revenue from the TIPP amounted to €20 bn in 2008. Petroleum products are subject to both the tax on petroleum products (TIPP) and the value added tax (VAT). The TIPP is also included in the taxable amount of petroleum products subject to VAT.

As of 2012, the rate varies from about €0.44 per litre for diesel to €0.61 per litre for petrol with some regional variation.

Taxes on wealth

Wealth may be subject to taxation when transmitted for sale or for free (gift, inheritance). In these cases, inheritance or gift tax may be payable (known as droits de succession) in France.

In addition, it may be taxed when owned: wealth is subject to annual taxation through the impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) and local property taxes are payable on real estate. Capital gains is payable when assets are disposed of, but this tax is a tax on the profit.

Stamps acts

The taxes called droits d’enregistrement, correspond to the stamp acts. They mainly apply to the sale of buildings (in addition to local taxes), inheritance and gifts, assignment of businesses and registration of vehicles. Revenues collected by the state amounted in 2006 to €14.7 bn.

Wealth Tax

2010 Rates :

  • Value of net assets :  below € 790,000 / Rate 0%
  • Between € 790,000 and €1,290,000 / 0.55%
  • Between € 1,290,000 and €2,530,000 / 0.75%
  • Between € 2,530,000 and €3,980,000 / 1%
  • Between € 3,980,000 and €7,600,000 / 1.30%
  • Between € 7,600,000 and €16,540,000 / 1.65%
  • Beyond € 16,540,000 / 1.80%

Wealth Tax (solidarity tax on wealth), in French impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) is an annual tax payable by individuals the net value of whose wealth exceeds a certain amount. It was established in 1989 to finance the RMI. In 2008, the return of ISF amounted to €4.5 bn. Individuals who are resident in France are taxed on their worldwide assets and individuals who are resident outside France under French law are taxed on their assets in France. The tax is set for each household (married couples or partners, persons cohabiting, plus minor children). The tax base includes all property, rights and values that constitute the wealth of taxpayers at 1 January of the relevant tax year (buildings built or not, individual businesses, farms, movable furniture, financial investments, debts owed to you, automobiles, aircraft, pleasure boats, …). However, certain assets are wholly or partially exempted (mainly professional property, i.e. individual companies, rights on literary and artistic works held by the author, some rural property, objects and antiques, artwork or collectibles).

Individuals resident in France are entitled to a deduction of 30% against the value of their main home for wealth tax purposes.

A resident in France may potentially reduce wealth tax due to the restriction that applies to the amount of combined income tax, wealth tax, social charges (CSG and CRDS) and local property taxes that can be taken from one’s taxable income.

This restriction is known as the Bouclier Fiscal or tax shield, and limits these taxes to no more than 50% of your taxable income.

On 6 August 2008, France enacted a law that entitles all those who have been non-resident in France for the five previous years, to exclude their non-French assets from wealth tax for the first five years of their residence in France.

While this minor tax applies only to the most wealthy of the population, and actually collects very little revenue (2% of overall tax revenue), it is very controversial. Many people on the political left consider it a symbol of solidarity, while many on the right argue that it encourages entrepreneurs to leave France.

Succession and Gift Taxes

These taxes, known as Droits de Succession et de Donation, apply to both gifts and inheritances. The taxes apply where :

  • The donor/deceased is resident in France at the date of the gift/death;
  • The recipient is resident in France and has been so resident for at least 6 of the 10 tax years prior to the year in which the gift/inheritance is received; or
  • The asset is a French asset.

These provisions can be overridden by a Tax Treaty.

Tax is payable by the recipient, based on the amount received and their relationship with the donor or deceased.

Assets passing on death between spouses and PACS partners are now exempt from French succession tax, but gifts are still taxable between spouses and PACS partners.

As for wealth tax, the value of your main home can be reduced by 30% for succession tax purposes provided the property is also occupied as a main home by the surviving spouse or by one or several children. PACS partners can also benefit from the 30% deduction.

PACS Partners

In France, unmarried couples (whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual) can enter into a PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarite) agreement.The PACS is a written agreement which can now be achieved by going before a Notaire who then registers it with the authorities. The relations between the partners are similar to those of husband and wife.

A PACS can be entered into by :

  • any couple living in France of whatever nationality, AND
  • any couple living outside of France, provided at least one of them is a French national

The tax position for PACS partners is now aligned with that of a married couple. For income tax purposes, the couple is assessed to income tax as a household from the day the PACS agreement takes force.

For succession tax, the surviving PACS partner is exempt from tax on inheritances. For gifts, the allowance is now €79,533 and the tax rates are as for married couples. If a PACS agreement is broken before the end of the year following the year it was entered into, for motives other than marriage of the couple or death of one of the partners, the allowance will be denied and the tax relief clawed back.

As of 14 May 2009, France recognizes most foreign Civil Partnerships as equivalent to a PACS.

Income Taxes

In France there are three categories of taxes on income: the corporate tax, the income tax for individuals and taxes for social purposes (CSG and the CRDS, paid by the households). Taxes paid by employers on wages, namely social contributions, are not considered as taxes by the French central government.

Income tax

The impôt sur le revenu (IR) is a tax on all income available to individuals in a year. With certain exceptions, net income is determined from total income, whatever its origin, after applying certain deductions, and then a single scale of taxation is applied. This scale is characterized by rates applied to slices of income according to the principle of progressivity. However, there are numerous provisions, so there are many systems of taxation depending on the type of income received. In addition, some income and capital gains are subject to a fixed rate of tax. The IR is payable each year on the total taxable income of the household. In 2007, proceeds from the IR amounted to €57 bn.

The income subject to IR is divided into seven categories: industrial and commercial profits, non-commercial and agricultural profits, land income, salaries and wages, pensions and annuities, movable income, and capital gains. Individuals’ total income is taxed if they are resident in France, whether they have French nationality or not. Individuals not living in France are taxed only on their income from French sources. The tax is calculated for each “fiscal household”, i.e. the family unit composed of either a single person, or two partners and their children or other dependents. Whatever the nationality, a person who is a tax resident in France is taxable on their worldwide income. People not living in France are subject to limited tax on their income from French sources only.

The amount of taxable income, or “revenu fiscal de référence” (RFR), is not equal to the income received by the household in the year. Instead, the RFR is determined by dividing the income by the number of “parts” in the fiscal household (1 part for every adult, 1 part for the first child, and 0.5 parts for each successive child), and then diminished further by a standard deduction and any other deductions the taxpayer may have claimed in the year.

Exemptions are made for social reasons. Taxpayers whose net income does not exceed €7,920 are exempted from the IR. In principle, taxable income is calculated from the income available to a fiscal household in one year. Some expenses by the household tax are deductible from total income. There can be cuts and maximum taxable amounts of the income.

The income tax is calculated by the administration based on the amounts reported by taxpayers who are required to declare their whole income earned during the previous year. But the calculation of income tax takes into account the personal situation of the taxpayer, in particular through the “family quotient” (or units in the household) on the one hand and in the allocation of reductions or tax credits to taxpayers, on the other hand. The family quotient can take into account family responsibilities and, according to them, eases the effects of progressive taxation since the progressive rate is applied to a partial income (the taxable income). This process consists of dividing the taxable income of the household tax into a number of units (or parts) equal to the number of individuals. The progressive scale of tax is then applied to taxable income per share. Finally, this partial tax is multiplied by the number of units to determine the taxable base.

The family quotient is one unit for a single person, two for a married couple, plus an extra half for each of the first two children and an additional unit for each child from the third.

There are certain limitations to the amount of tax savings that can be achieved under the parts system. If the system produces a tax bill which has been reduced by more than €2,301 (for 2009 income) per half part compared to what it would have been without reference to the parts, you are not allowed to use this system. You will always receive 2 parts for a married couple notwithstanding.

Various tax credits are available to set against the total tax calculated. These include tax credits for dividends, energy-saving work carried out on the main residence, purchase of an environmentally friendly car, employment of home help, child minding expenses, for filing tax returns electronically and paying tax by direct debit or electronically, for mortgage interest, among others.

High earners income tax

For tax years 2013 & 2014 earnings above 1 million euros will be subject to a tax payable by the payer/employer. The tax introduced by Francois Hollande as the 75% tax is in fact a 50% tax which when social security charges are added reaches 75%.

Corporate tax

The corporate tax, in French impot sur les societes (IS), is an annual tax in principle that affects all profits made in France by corporations and other entities. It concerns about one-third of French companies. The standard rate is 33.1% for all of their activities. In 2006, the net proceeds from corporation tax amounted to €47.8 bn. The taxable income is equal to the difference between gross profit and costs and deductible expenses. The gross operating profit is made by the difference between sales and costs. In addition to the gross operating profit, all income or profits made apart are normally taxable: income from the rental of property, interests, deposits and bonds. A reduced rate applies to a limited number of Long Term Capital Gains.

Social Taxes

Since its creation in 1945, the Social Security is mainly financed by social contributions or “cotisations sociales“, i.e. deductions from wages. Until recently, there was no wide taxation on social expenditure, contrary to most of its European partners. However, in order to find a solution to the problems of financing of the social security, governments have had to broaden its range of resources by the introduction of additional tax, notably the general social contribution (CSG) and the repayment of the debt of social security (CRDS) at a rate of 0.5%, to repay the debt of the ASSO.

Established by the Finance Act 1991, the general social contribution (CSG) is payable by individuals living in France and who benefit from the compulsory health insurance. Revenues from the CSG are allocated to social security budget, specifically to the National Family Allowance, the Solidarity Fund pension schemes and insurance. Indeed, unlike the social contributions that give those who pay a right to benefit from them, the CSG, is levied without direct compensation (like any other tax). The CSG has a very broad base as it applies in principle to earnings and income from wealth. The CSG is composed of three separate contributions. Incomes from work are taxed at 7,5%. The rate applied to income from investments is 8.2%. It also applies to financial investment (with exceptions for certainuntaxable products : Codevi, livret jeune, livret A, livret d’epargne populaire). In 2005, the revenue from the CSG amounted to €71.47 bn.

The contribution to the social debt (CRDS) was created in 1996. Like the CSG, it applies to earnings and to income from wealth. It was initially established for a period of 13 years, but this time limit was abolished in 2004. The territorial scope of the CRDS is the same as the CSG: thus, CRDS is paid by individuals living in France who benefit from a compulsory insurance scheme. The rate is 0.5%. The base of the CRDS is somewhat broader than the CSG, for it includes incomes exempted from CSG such as family benefits or housing allowances. The methods of recovering the CRDS are identical to those of the CSG. CRDS is not deductible from the tax base for tax on income. The yield for the year 2005 is €5.2 bn. In summary, the social charges are made up of four elements: the CSG, CRDS, PS and RSA. The amounts are different for each type of income.

Local taxes

There are a huge number of local taxes. The most important are the direct taxes. The local direct taxes are the oldest taxes in the French tax system, as they succeed to direct contributions that were created in 1790 and 1791 as taxes collected by the central government then transferred to local authorities upon the tax reform of 1917. Local taxes are levied by the state for local authorities (regions apartments, municipalities, local public institutions). There are four main direct taxes (taxe foncière sur les propriétés bâties, la taxe foncière sur les propriétés non bâties, taxe d’habitation and taxe professionnelle). The rates are set by the territorial assemblies (regional or municipal councils) when they vote their annual budget. However, rates cannot exceed certain limits set by the state. The tax bases are established by the state. There are many permanent or temporary exemptions. In 2006, the revenue from the four major local direct taxes amounted to €60.2 bn. Apart from these four main taxes, there are many other taxes. Direct taxes include the Taxe pour frais de chambres d’agriculture (expense of the chambers of agriculture), the Taxe d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (garbagecollection), and the taxe sur les pylônes. Indirect taxes are taxes applying to spring water, mines, spectacles, advertising, navigation, electricity, pollution and workplace.

Professional tax

The professional tax is due each year by legal persons or natural persons who are self-employed in France. Various exemptions are provided (activities performed by the State, local authorities and public institutions, business and agricultural organizations, etc.). The tax base is constituted by the rental value of assets available to the taxpayer. This is then subject to discounts or rebates. The amount of business tax is calculated by multiplying the taxable net by the rates approved by each local beneficiaries. The rates are set by the local communities and organizations, within limits set by national legislation. In 2005, proceeds from the business tax amounted to €25.06 bn.

Housing tax

The housing tax applies to all building sufficiently furnished and their dependencies (gardens, garages, private car parks): the tax is payable by any person who has a residential unit at one’s disposal, for any reason (owner, renter, occupant for free). The tax base is the cadastral rental value of the residential property. In 2005, the revenue from the housing taxes amounted to €13.37 bn.

Land tax

The property tax on built lands is applied to properties built in France. The taxable properties consist of all permanent construction, i.e. buildings (blocks of flats, houses, workshops, warehouses, etc.).

The tax base is the cadastral income, equal to 50% of the cadastral rental value of the building (i.e. the value set by the administration). For social reasons, there are many exemptions and exceptions.

Structure of the taxation in France by source

In 2007, revenues amounted to €818.9 bn, or 43.3% of GDP.

There are four beneficiaries of the tax revenues: in 2007, social security administrations have received just over half; the state and the central government bodies near a third; the local administrations (APUL) nearly 13%; the European Union (EU) less than 1%. Direct and indirect taxes account for 62.8% of total revenues in 2007. State resources come almost entirely from taxes. The social security bodies are financed largely by social contributions but also by taxes, including the general social contribution (CSG) and the contribution for the repayment of the social debt (CRDS), which represented n 2007 a quarter of the funding of the Social Security administrations. Local administrations are mostly financed by the four main local direct taxes (housing tax, property taxes and business tax).