Q&A: Ask the ex­perts

Our panel of ex­perts pro­vide the an­swers to your queries

Living France - - Contents -

Our ex­perts give their ad­vice on pay­ing tax, house-hunt­ing and tak­ing a car to France


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”


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

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