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How much income tax can you expect to pay in France?

It's no secret that workers in France are highly taxed, but as the French government reveals the new levels for taxation at source, we look into how much you can expect to pay.

How much income tax can you expect to pay in France?
Don't expect your French tax bill to be small. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

If you are an employee, your income tax will be deducted at source from your monthly salary as part of a pay-as-you-earn system that is relatively new in France.

The French government lays out a standard rate for deductions, at different income rates.

The rates for the next 12 months have just been published and they are;

  • Up to €10,084: 0
  • €10,085 – €25,710: 11 percent
  • €25,711 – €42,000: 30 percent

French taxes are progressive so that people earning in the higher bracket only pay a 30 percent rate on the portion of their salary over €25,711, not on their whole salary.

Here’s the example given on the French public service website, using a net income of €42,000: 

Up to €10,084: the applied rate is 0

Then from €10,085 to €25,710: the applied rate is 11 percent on €15,626  = €1,719 

Then from €25,710 to €42,000, the applied rate is 30 percent on €16,290  = €4,887 

Therefore the total annual income tax is €1,719 + €4,887 = €6,606 at an overall rate of 15.7 percent.

Family rates

However, to make things more complicated tax rates vary depending on your personal circumstances, such as whether you are married and have children.

The above is the flat rate for a single person with no children.

If this is your first year of paying tax in France you will be charged at the flat rate, but could be due money back if you are married and have children.

In order to claim this you need to register with the French tax office and declare your personal circumstances to benefit from the personalised rate.

You have two choices in how you do this – either contact the tax office now to create a tax profile, or wait until the next tax declaration time to supply more details.

The next declaration will come around in April 2022. You are not obliged to make contact with the tax office before this date, but if you don’t then you will have to wait until next year to get your new rate.

Come April, everyone who is living or working in France is obliged to fill out the annual tax declaration – here’s how that works.

Other taxes

So that’s income tax – however, if you take a look at a French payslip there are all sorts of deductions in addition to income tax.

A standard French payslip – which by the way is printed on A4 size paper because there are so many deductions from your salary – is split into two parts; impôt sur le revenue (income tax) and charges sociales (social charges).

READ ALSO How to understand your French payslip

And one of the first things you notice is that social charges – which are things like compulsory pension contributions and unemployment insurance – are usually considerably more than the income tax you are paying.

There is also a hefty column of charges patronales or part employeur (employer costs) which is the contribution that your employer has to make to things like your pension, unemployment insurance and social security costs.

Your employer may also have to pay extra costs like paying for half of your mutuelle health insurance or your transport costs.

READ ALSO The perks and benefits that French employees enjoy

Before you get too gloomy about that, however, there is the possibility that you might get some money back from the tax man since you can claim for a range of deductions including childcare costs, charity donations and even the salary of a cleaner.

Depending on the industry you work in, you could also get tax rebates as part of historic agreements through the conventions collectives (collective agreements). 

And then there is the consideration that all those French taxes fund things like France’s excellent healthcare system, generous unemployment benefits should you lose your job, and the mostly efficient train network. 

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