What are the penalties for filing a late tax return in France?

The deadline to file a French tax declaration, whether online or by post, has now passed. The sanctions for being late can be costly - but in some cases, can be avoided.

Read our guide on the penalties you face if you are late on your tax return in France. Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

The deadline to file your French tax declaration for 2021 has now passed for everyone living in the country. 

Depending on where you live and whether you send your tax return electronically or by post, the deadline was different. 

READ MORE The upcoming deadlines you need to know for tax declarations in France

Those filing electronically and living in départements 55 to 974/976 were given up until Wednesday, June 8th by 11:59pm – the most generous period of timeframe of any group in the country. 

But what happens if you are late to file your return? 


If you are late to file your return, you will generally be sent a letter known as a mise en demeure, which has to be signed for upon delivery. This letter will instruct you to submit your tax return as soon as possible and state the potential penalties incurred, should you fail to do so. 

The amount varies according to how late you are. 

If you were late to file your tax return but didn’t receive/sign for a mise en demeure, you will need to pay an extra 10 percent on top of your final tax bill. 

If you file your tax return less than 30 days following the reception of a mise en demeure, you will need to pay an extra 20 percent on top of your final tax bill. 

If you file your tax return more than 30 days following the reception of a mise en demeure, you will need to pay an extra 40 percent on top of your final tax bill. 

Other penalties 

The service-public website advises that a 0.2 percent monthly interest rate can be applied in the case of late payment. 

There are also a range of penalties unrelated to late payment. 

If French tax authorities discover that you have failed to declare a revenue stream, you could have to pay an extra 80 percent on top of your normal tax bill. 

READ MORE What exactly do I need to tell the taxman about my assets outside France?

The maximum penalty for personal tax fraud in France is a €3m fine and seven years imprisonment. 

France has dual taxation agreements with countries including the UK and USA, so if you have already paid tax on income in another country you won’t need to pay more tax in France – but you still need to declare it. 

Another item that frequently catches out foreigners in France is overseas bank accounts.

If you have any non-French bank accounts, you need to list them on your tax declaration, even if they are dormant or only have a very small amount of money in them.

This also applies to any foreign investment schemes you have, such as life insurance policies. 

The penalty for not listing accounts is between €1,500 and €10,000 and that applies for each account you fail to declare. 


If you had an inkling that you may have to declare your earnings in France, then chances are you probably do. 

You need to file a tax return if: 

  • You live in France (even if your income comes from another country, e.g. pensioners)
  • You work in France 
  • You live outside of France but earn income here, by renting out a property for example. 

READ MORE Tax warning for second-home owners with French carte de séjour

If one of these situations applies to you, but you have still not filed your return, it is best to reach out to the tax authorities before they reach out to you. You could plead that you forgot the deadline in “good faith” if you had a legitimate reason (serious illness, a death in the family etc.). If this is the first time that you have declared a late tax return, it is possible that the penalties won’t be enforced. 

If you declare your taxes online, you can use the messaging space available via

You can also call +33 8 09 40 14 01 to reach the government’s tax hotline Monday-Friday between 9h30 and 19h. 

Non-French speakers can try calling the following number: + 33 1 72 95 20 42.

Every town has a local tax office, where you can simply turn up without an appointment and ask for help.

What if I made a mistake on my declaration?

In 2018 France formally enshrined the ‘right to make mistakes’, in dealings with the authorities, giving people the right to go back and correct their declarations without attracting a penalty.

So if you realise you have missed something off or added the wrong information, you can either go back into your online declaration and correct it or, if you file on paper, visit your local tax office.

However the ‘right to make a mistake’ does not extend to late filing.

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Reader question: How do I convert income into euros for my French tax declaration?

If you're a foreigner in France, you may be declaring income from another country - here's how to do your currency conversions.

Reader question: How do I convert income into euros for my French tax declaration?

Question: On the French tax declaration I’m required to declare my non-French income, which is mostly in dollars – what method should I use for converting the amounts into euro?

If you’re living in France you will almost certainly have to complete the annual income tax declaration, even if you have no income in France – eg retirees living on a UK or US pension.

READ ALSO What you need to know about the 2023 French tax declaration

You are also required to declare all your worldwide income – if you have already paid tax on it in another country you probably won’t have to pay more tax in France, if your country has a tax treaty with France, but you have to declare it all the same.

All of which means that foreigners living in France are likely to be declaring at least some income – earnings, pensions, rental income or share dividends – that is not in euros.

So how do you do the conversion?

The first thing to note is that all income on the French tax form must be declared in euros, there is no facility to declare in another currency, which means that you need to convert your income into euros before you start.

In terms of how you do the conversion, there is no fixed formula, and most people use online currency converters such as XE or Google for the sake of simplicity, but you can also look up the exchange rate and do your own calculations. 

It is advised that you take a note of which method you used, and the date you did the conversion, just in case any of your working is challenged by the tax office.

Accountants report that it is very rare that the French tax office would challenge your return based on how you convert foreign currency into euros, but it is wise to keep a note of your method just in case.

Chartered accountant Faten Amamou, who specialises in international clients, told The Local: “Before you start to fill out your tax declaration, if you have any income that isn’t in euros, you’ll need to convert it to euros. There is no set method for doing this, but keep a note of the method, logic and currency conversion you have used in case you are questioned about it.”

READ ALSO Ask the expert: How to fill out your 2023 tax declaration

You can find more details about the 2023 tax declaration, tax deadlines and the property tax declaration in our tax section HERE.