Q&A: Ask the experts
Our panel of experts provide the answers to your queries
Our experts give their advice on paying tax, house-hunting and taking a car to France
PAYING TAX IN FRANCE Q
My civil partner has recently found a job in France, so we are going to make our home there. I will live in France but will continue to work in London. That means I will commute back to the UK for three days a week and will work from home in France for the remaining two days. We will rent a home together in France and rent out our home in the UK. I am taxed at source by my UK employer and I also fill out a self-assessment tax return each year because I do some additional freelance work. I will have spent more time in the UK in the current tax year than in France, so I assume I am OK to carry on paying taxes in the UK for 2017-18. However, I believe the French tax year is a calendar year, rather than our April to March year. How soon will I need to start paying tax in France? How will I go about this? How will this affect my UK employer in terms of how they pay me? I assume I will have to pay some tax on our rental income, but who should I declare it to? GRAHAM WELCH
will start with the good news; living in France and physically working in the UK is simple, as this is covered by the tax treaty between the UK and France. Income from employment in the UK is taxed in the UK. This income must still be declared in France; however, you will receive a 100% tax credit for this income, since it has already been assessed in the UK.
The complication comes from your time spent physically working in France. This may be viewed as a French activity, since the work takes place in France, thus the French authorities will not be happy for you to simply pay taxes and national insurance or social charges in the UK.
For a French-based activity (which may also affect your freelance work), you will need to either have a French employment contract set up in some way, such as a limited company (a SARL) or a micro-entrepreneur. Given that your employer is unlikely to be happy to set up a French work contract arrangement, the second may be the only option, which effectively means that you bill your employer for the work you do while in France, which is simple for them, but more complicated for you.
To answer your other point on when you start paying French tax, this depends on when you become resident. You have a home in France and your UK home has been rented out (as in you have rented it to someone else for an income, not that you live in a rented property). On this basis, you have no UK home, but you do have a French home.
For those living between France and the UK, one may not simply apply UK rules for residency, as clearly the French have a say and their own rules. Thankfully, as mentioned earlier, there is a tax treaty between the UK and France. This is more a series of tests. The first one is ‘Where is your home?’. If your only home is in France, then that is your country of residency, no matter how many days are being spent in another country.
This seems to be your position; thus, you became resident in France from the day you only had a home in France and not elsewhere. It would appear, therefore, that you are already resident in France and should declare your income in France from that date.
You should complete your first tax declaration in the first month of May following your arrival for the previous year. This is just a case of going along to your local tax office, in May, to obtain the forms or downloading the tax forms from impots.gouv.fr. I would suggest the use of a professional for at least your first declaration.
As far as the UK is concerned, you will also need to complete a France-Individual from the HMRC, which ensures that you get refunded for payment to the UK, which is common being that, indeed, the tax year in the UK is April to April and the calendar year in France is January to December. ROBERT KENT
“Living in France and physically working in the UK is simple, as this is covered by the tax treaty between the UK and France”
MOVING TO CHARENTE Q
I am planning to move to the Charente area with my husband and our twoyear-old daughter some time in the near future. Although we hope to move relatively soon, we haven’t quite managed to get the ball rolling yet, but I need to narrow my property search. I would quite like to be within driving distance of shops and perhaps some restaurants, and we also need to consider access to schools. I’ve got a budget of around €170,000. Would you recommend anywhere in particular? Also, do you have any tips for searching for property in France from the UK? CHARLOTTE MORGAN
You have chosen a great location as Charente is a perfect place for family life, with plenty of space, activities and friendly communities. With respect to driving to shops and restaurants, most villages are within a 15-minute drive of a town offering a variety of shops, restaurants and other recreational facilities. Some of the towns to look out for are Cognac, Jarnac, Ruffec, Chalais and, of course, the department’s capital, Angoulême. Properties around 15km of these towns will perhaps meet the first of your criteria.
Many villages will have their own école maternelle. This is followed by école primaire for children between six and 11 years old. Most larger villages and small towns will have a primary school. Students then move on to collège where they should, at the end of the cycle, receive their brevet which will allow them to move on to the lycée or high school, before graduating from lycée with a baccalauréat aged 18. In Charente, while there are about 300 primary schools, there are just 27 lycées. The good news is that if you live within the catchment area of the school attended, transport is provided (either free or at a low annual cost). You should be aware that parents are required to carry an insurance policy for children attending school, known as an assurance scolaire.
You may be surprised how far your budget of €170,000 will go. We currently have a variety of older and more contemporary properties, with or without swimming pools, with easy access to some of the larger villages and towns.
The number one tip for property searching in the UK is to contact one or a small number of local agents and work closely with them – a scattergun approach will result in wasting significant time, and therefore money. A good agent knows the territory and will want to try to find you the right home. Take on board their advice and be prepared to be guided by them. By restricting yourself to one or two agents you will not necessarily be restricting your choice of property, as in France it is common practice for properties to be listed with multiple agencies. Be realistic about what your budget can buy and if your search criteria are many, be prepared to make a compromise or two – something will have to give, when searching for a property in a rural location with views, no noise and no neighbours within walking distance of shops and restaurants. CHARLES MILLER