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MONEY

Does it make financial sense to get married in France?

Yeah yeah, love, companionship, someone to take the bins out . . . But there are also some sound financial reasons to get married or enter into a civil partnership in France.

A young married couple pose on Alexandre III bridge at sunset in Paris
Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP

Most people, it’s probably safe to say, don’t immediately think about the financial pros and cons of marriage when saying ‘Yes!’ at the romantic ring moment.

But there are income tax and inheritance implications that it’s useful to at least be aware of.

Relationship regimes

This is France. Marriage is not simply a question of ‘Yes’ or not. There are several different ‘regimes’ to marriage, which dictate how property is divided up in the case of divorce, as well as inheritance issues and the like. 

A full explanation of the different regimes is available, via Notaires de France, here.

The default regime for a French marriage is communauté réduite aux acquêts. This means that property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned; property owned by one or the other before marriage and brought into the relationship is owned separately. A couple can change marriage regimes by consulting with a notaire.

A Pacs (like a civil partnership) falls under the séparation des biens regime – property bought by one or the other half is owned by them outright.

READ ALSO Compared: Marriage and civil partnership in France

People married abroad before moving to France, are deemed to fall under séparation des biens until 10 years’ residence has passed – after which future acquisitions fall under the French regime.

READ ALSO The divorce law pitfalls that foreigners in France need to be aware of

Income tax

Married couples and those in formal civil partnerships (pacsé) only complete a single income tax return form. Unmarried couples who live together and have children may declare this way, but do not have to.

This joint declaration of both incomes – beyond the hours of form-filling time saved every year – has other benefits. 

The total income declared on that joint form is reduced by a mechanism called the quotient familial. That figure is multiplied by the number of ‘parts’ that make up the family to decide the amount of income tax payable.

The larger the family, for tax purposes a single unit, the greater the quotient, or ‘parts’. Basically, a single, unmarried, taxpayer is ‘one part’. A married couple, ‘two parts’; a couple with a child under 18 ‘three parts’, and so on. 

This calculation decides the amount of income tax payable.

You can inform the tax office of any changes in your personal situation, such as getting married, entering a Pacs, or getting divorced here.

Inheritance

In inheritance terms, the surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance tax. They may also, depending on the family situation, be automatically entitled to either a portion of the estate or to remain living in the family home.

Pacs partners enjoy the same right – as long as they are listed in the deceased’s will.

An unmarried or registered partner, on the other hand, pays inheritance tax at at rate of 60 percent on any inheritance after a token allowance, currently €1,594. They have no automatic rights to property or estate.

Gift

For gifting purposes – for significant gifts, such as property – married couples, or those in a Pacs relationship, get an allowance currently worth €80,724 before taxation which rises at banded rates. Those in informal relationships get no allowance and will be taxed at 60 percent.

Of course, none of these are reasons for getting married.

We at The Local are still romantic enough to believe in the whole L-word thing. But it’s nice to know there are plenty of financial pros to go with the real reason – the only reason – for tying the knot.

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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