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See Government of France for a wider perspective of French government.

Taxation in France is determined by the yearly budget vote by the French Parliament, which determines which kinds of taxes (or quasi-taxes) can be levied and which rates can be applied.

Contents

Overview

In France, taxes are levied by the government, and collected by the public administrations. French "public administrations" are made up of three different institutions:

  • the central government, i.e. the national government or the state ("l'État") strictly speaking, plus various central government bodies. It has a separate budget (general budget, special Treasury accounts, special budgets). It collects most of the taxes.
  • local governments, which include agencies with limited territorial jurisdiction, such as local authorities, local public establishments, chambers of commerce and all public or quasi-public bodies financed primarily by local governments. They collect many taxes, but their weight is rather limited compared to that of central government.
  • social security association (ASSO), is private organizations endowed with a mission of public service (even though they behave to a large extent like public administrations). Their budget is made up of all mandatory social security funds (general scheme, unemployment insurance schemes, complementary retirement funds and welfare benefit funds, funds for the liberal professions and agricultural funds, special employee schemes) and the agencies financed by such funds (social works, public and private sector hospitals contributing to public hospital services and financed from an aggregate operating grant). They are mostly financed by social contributions, collected for the sole purpose of social welfare.

Taxes in France are made up of taxes in the narrow meaning of the word, plus social security contributions. Most of the taxes are collected by the government and the local collectivities, while the social deductions are collected by the Social Security. There a distinction to be made between taxes (impôts), which applies to production, importations, wealth and incomes, and social contributions (cotisations sociales), which are part of the total wage paid by an employer when he remunerates an employee. Taxes and contributions together are called in French prélèvements obligatoires (compulsory deductions).

Is subject to French tax people having their tax domicile in France, ie natural or legal persons either living in France, i.e. who have their homes or their principal residence in France; working in France; having the center of their economic interests in France., Only one of these criteria is sufficient for a person to be treated as taxable.

Despite a downward trend registered since 1999, the tax burden in 2007 (43.3% of GDP) remains at a high level, both historically and in comparison with other countries. OECD countries have experienced an increase in the tax burden since the mid-60s comparable to that of France, rising from 25% of the GDP in 1965 to 36% in 2005. That of the countries of the European Union has increased by nearly 12 percentage points of GDP over the period. Efforts to control the increase in the tax burden have been made by the states of the OECD: the tax rate decelerated during the 90s and has decreased slightly since 2000. This is why France continues to be among the OECD countries whose tax rate is the highest. Taxes account for 45% of GDP against 37% on average in OECD countries. The overall rate of social security and tax on the average wage in 2005 was 71.3% of gross salary, the highest of the OECD. The levels of social security contributions are particularly high (16.3% of revenue against 9.4% in average for OECD). The social security budgets are larger than the budget of the national government. The budgets of both the national government and of social security organizations run deficits.

List of taxes

Part of each tax in the total tax revenue, without the social contributions.

There are many taxes in France. They can be classified according to the institution which collects and benefit from them and to the people who pay them. Taxes are monetary benefits imposed on people according to their capacities and without return of benefit, for the purpose of public expenditure is to achieve economic and social goals set by the government. As for tariffs, they are different from taxes because of their strictly economic aspect; their purpose is to protect the domestic market. However, some charges levied by the customs administration are taxes: the value added tax levied on goods from non-members of the European Union, the tax on petroleum products, which applies regardless of the origin of products, and other taxes. Finally, although they are compulsory, social security contributions are not taxes as they are collected for one purpose - social protection - and as the taxpayers might benefit from these expenses. Some other taxes, based on personal income, are allocated to social agencies and do not give taxpayers the right to benefit from them.

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Taxes on production and importation

These taxes, collected by public administrations or by the institutions of the UE, apply to the production and the consumption of goods and of services. These taxes are independent from profits. They include taxes on the products and others taxes on the production. The taxes on the production cover essentially the taxe professionnelle, the taxe foncière and the versement transport (the professional tax, tax land and the payment transport), which apply to the use of labour and the property or the use of land, buildings and other assets used for the sake of production. They are local taxes, so they are not collected by the central government (see Local taxes). Taxes on consumption traditionally consisted of indirect duties on the consumption and excise duties, applying only on the use of certain products (alcoholic beverages, manufactured, tobacco products and energy products). However, the establishment of the VAT and its generalization have considerably reduced the scope and thus the revenue of these indirect duties and exise duties even if one of them, the tax on petroleum products, has still a very important weigh. The revenue from the excise duties amounted in 2007 to 2.7 billion euros, without the TIPP.

Tax on the added value (VAT)
In order to establish a single market made up of the member states of the European Union, a number of directives on VAT has been enacted since 1967, with the obligation for states to adapt their domestic legislation . The rules relating to the scope, the tax base, the payment, the territoriality of goods and services as well as reporting requirements are partially harmonized, but states can apply transitional arrangements in respect of rates, exemptions and rights of deduction, whose rules are being harmonized.

The VAT is a general consumption tax, which applies to goods and services located in France. It is a proportional tax on output collected by the companies and ultimately completely supported by the final buyer, i.e. the consumer, since it is included in the price of goods or services. Indeed, VAT is applied to the "added value", ie the added value to the product or service at each stage of production or marketing, so that at the end of the economic circuit, the overall tax burden corresponds to the tax calculated on the final price paid by the consumer. The current standard rate is at 19,6%. The reduced rate (for food and books) is 5.5% . A specific rate of 2,1% applies only to the drugs taken in charge by the Social Security. The net revenue of VAT in 2008 is 126 billion euros.

Tax on petroleum products
The taxe intérieure sur les produits pétroliers (TIPP) applies to petroleum products according to fixed rates provided by the legislation. It applies only in France : in the overseas territories, there is a special consumption tax (TSC) on premium and diesel. It paplies to motor fuels and heating fuels, such as petrol and gasoline, electricity, natural gas, coal and coke. In the face of the rise in oil prices, a reduction in the rate of the TIPP for fuel sold to consumers was adopted by the Parliament in 2006. The TIPP is collected by the services de la direction générale des douanes et des droits indirects (DGDDI) when petroleum products are consumed on the domestic market. The revenue from the TIPP amounted to 20 billion euros in 2008. Petroleum products are subject to both the tax on petroleum products (TIPP) and the value added tax (VAT). The TIPP is also included in the taxable amount of petroleum products subject to VAT.

Taxes on wealth

Wealth may be subject to taxation when transmitted for sale or for free (gift, inheritance). In these cases, the imposition most often takes the form of registration fees. In addition, it may be taxed when owned: wealth is subject to annual taxation through the solidarity tax on fortune(ISF) and property taxes, only for real estate properties (which is a local tax). Capital gains from the wealth are taxable, but the corresponding tax is a tax on income, not on wealth.

Stamps acts
The taxes called droits d'enregistrement, correspond to the stamp acts. They mainly apply to the sale of buildings (in addition to local taxes), inheritance and gifts, assignment of businesses and registration of vehicles. Revenues collected by the state amounted in 2006 to 14.7 billion euros.

Solidarity tax on wealth

Fraction of the value of net assets Rate %
Below €760,000 0
Between €760,000 and €1,220,000 0.55
Between €1,220,000 and €2,420,000 0.75
Between €2,420,000 and €3,800,000 1
Between €3,800,000 and €7,270,000 1.30
Between €7,270,000 and €15,810,000 1.65
Beyond €15,810,000 1.80

The solidarity tax on wealth, in French impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF) is an annual tax payable by individuals the net value of whose wealth exceeds a certain amount. It was established in 1989 to finance the RMI. In 2008, the return of ISF amounted to 4.5 billion euros. Taxpayers are the individuals who are living in France or who own property situated in France, and whose assets have a value of more than €760,000 on 1 January of the tax year. People who are domiciled in France are taxed on their property held both in and outside France, and people who are domiciled outside France under the French law are taxed on their own property in France. The tax is set for each home tax (couples, persons cohabiting, plus minor children). The tax base includes all property, rights and values that constitute the wealth of taxpayers from 1 January of the year (buildings built or not, individual businesses, farms, movable furniture, financial investments, automobiles, aircraft, pleasure boats ,...). However, certain assets are wholly or partially exempted (mainly professional property, i.e. individual companies, rights on literary and artistic works held by the author, some rural property, objects and antiques, artwork or collectibles).

While this minor tax applies only to the most wealthy of the population, and actually collects very little revenue (2% of overall tax revenue), it is very controversial. Many people on the political left consider it a symbol of solidarity, while many on the right argue that it encourages entrepreneurs to leave France.

Taxes on incomes

In France there are three categories of taxes on income: the corporate tax, the income tax for individuals and taxes for social purposes (CSG and the CRDS, paid by the households). Taxes paid by employers on the total amount of wage, named social contributions, are not considered as taxes by the French central government.

Income tax
The impôt sur le revenu (IR) is a tax on all income available to individuals in a year. Unless exceptions, a net income is determined from the whole income, whatever their origin, and then a single scale of taxation is applied. This scale is characterized a rates applied to slices according to the principle of progressivity. However, there are numerous provisions, so that there are many systems of taxation. In addition, some income and capital gains are subject to proportional tax. The IR is established each year on a taxable income the household has to declare at the end of the fiscal year. In 2007, proceeds from the IR amounted to 57 billion euros.

The income subject to IR is divided into seven categories: industrial and commercial profits, non-commercial and agricultural profits, land income, salaries and wages, pensions and annuities, movable income, and capital gains. Individuals' total income is taxed if they are domiciled in France, whether they have French nationality or not. Persons not living in France are taxed only on their income from French sources. The tax is calculated for each "fiscal household", i.e. the family unit composed of either a single person, or two partners and their children or other dependents. The tax base is made up of the sum of the incomes of all the individual members of the household tax. Whatever the nationality, a person whose tax domicile in France is taxable on its worldwide income. People not living in France are subject to limited tax on their income from French sources only.

Rate for each part of the income
Part of the taxable income Rate
Below €5,614 0
From €5,614 to €11,198 5.5
From €11,198 to €24,872 - 14
From €24,872 to €66,679 30
Beyond €66,679 40

Exemptions are made for social reasons. Taxpayers whose net income does not exceed expenses €7,920 are exempted from the IR. In principle, taxable income is calculated from the income available to a fiscal household in one year. Some expenses by the household tax are deductible from total income. There can be cuts and maximum taxable amounts of the income.

The income tax is calculated by the administration based on the amounts reported by taxpayers who are required to declare their whole income earned the previous year. But the the calculation of income tax takes into account the personal situation of the taxpayer, in particular through the "quotient family" on the one hand and in the allocation of reductions or tax credits to taxpayers, on the other hand. The family quotient can take into account family responsibilities and, according to them, eases the effects of progressive taxation since the progressive rate is applied to a partial income (the taxable income). This process consists in dividing the taxable income of the household tax into a number of shares equal to the number of individuals. The progressive scale of tax is then applied to taxable income per share. Finally, this partial tax is multiplied by the number of shares to determine the taxable base.

The family quotient is one unit for a single person, two for a married couple, half for an additional for each of the first two children and an additional share for each child from the third.

Corporate tax
The corporate tax, in French impot sur les societes (IS), is an annual tax in principle that affects all profits made in France by corporations and other entities. It concerns about one-third of French companies. The standard rate is 33.1% for all of their activities. In 2006, the net proceeds from corporation tax amounted to 47.8 billion euros. The taxable income is equal to the difference between gross profit and costs and deductible expenses. The gross operating profit is made by the difference between sales and costs. In addition to the gross operating profit, all income or profits made apart are normally taxable: income from the rental of property, interests, deposits and bonds.

Taxes for social purposes
Since its creation in 1945, the Social Security is mainly financed by social contributions or "social cotisations", i.e. deductions from wages. Until recently, there were no wide taxation on social expenditure, contrary to most of its European partners. However, in order to find a solution to the problems of financing of the social security, governments have had to broaden its range of resources by the introduction of additional tax, notably the general social contribution (CSG) and the repayment of the debt of social security (CRDS) at a rate of 0.5%, to repay the debt of the ASSO.

Established by the Finance Act 1991, the general social contribution (CSG) is payable by individuals living in France and who benefit from the compulsory health insurance. Revenues from the CSG are allocated to social security budget, specifically to the National Family Allowance, the Solidarity Fund pension schemes and insurance. Indeed, unlike the social contributions that give those who pay a right to benefit from them, the CSG, is levied without direct compensation(like any other tax). The CSG has a very broad base as it applies in principle to earnings and income from wealth. The CSG is composed of three separate contributions. Incomes from work are taxed at 7,5 %. The rate applied to income from wealth was initially set at 7.5% but it was increased to 8.2% in 2004. It also applies to financial investment (with exceptions for certain untaxable products : Codevi, livret jeune, livret A, livret d'epargne populaire) at a rate of 8.2% from 2004. In 2005, the revenue from the CSG amounted to 71.47 billion euros.

The contribution to the social debt (CRDS) was created in 1996. Like the CSG, it applies to earnings and to income from wealth. It was initially established for a period of 13 years, but this time limit was abolished in 2004. The territorial scope of the CRDS is the same as the CSG: thus, CRDS is paid by individuals living in France who benefit from a compulsory insurance scheme. The rate is 0.5%. The base of the CRDS is somewhat broader than the CSG, for it includes incomes exempted from CSG such as family benefits or housing allowances. The methods of recovering the CRDS are identical to those of the CSG. CRDS is not deductible from the tax base for tax on income. The yield for the year 2005 is 5.2 billion euros.

Local taxes

There are a huge number of local taxes. The most important are direct taxes. The local direct taxes are oldest taxes of the French tax system, as they succeed to direct contributions that were created in 1790 and 1791 as taxes collected by the central government then transferred to local authorities at the occasion of the tax reform of 1917. Local taxes are levied by the state for local authorities (regions, departments, municipalities, local public institutions). There are four main direct taxes (taxe foncière sur les propriétés bâties, la taxe foncière sur les propriétés non bâties, taxe d'habitation and taxe professionnelle). The rates are set by the territorial assemblies (regional or municipal councils) when they vote their annual budget. However, rates can not exceed certain limits set by the state. The tax bases are established by the state. There are many permanent or temporary exemptions. In 2006, the revenue from the four major local direct taxes amounted to 60.2 billion euros. Apart from these four main taxes, there are many other taxes. Direct taxes include the Taxe pour frais de chambres d'agriculture (expense of the chambers of agriculture), the Taxe d'enlèvement des ordures ménagères (garbage collection), and the taxe sur les pylônes. Indirect taxes are taxes applying to spring water, mines, spectacles, advertising, navigation, electricity, pollution and workplace.

Professional tax
The professional tax is due each year by legal persons or natural persons who are self-employed in France. Various exemptions are provided (activities performed by the State, local authorities and public institutions, business and agricultural organizations, etc). The tax base is constituted by the rental value of assets available to the taxpayer. The is then subject discounts or rebates. The amount of business tax is calculated by multiplying the taxable net by the rates approved by each local beneficiaries. The rates are set by the local communities and organizations, within limits set by national legislation. In 2005, proceeds from the business tax amounted to 25.06 billion euros.

Housing tax
The housing tax applies to all building sufficiently furnished and their dependencies (gardens, garages, private car parks): the tax is payable by any person who has a residential unit at one's dispossal, for any reason (owner, renter, occupant for free). The tax base is the cadastral rental value of the residential property. In 2005, the revenue from the housing taxes amounted to 13.37 billion euros.

Land tax
The property tax on built lands is applied to properties built in France. The taxable properties consist of all permanent construction, i.e. buildings (blocks of flats, houses, workshops, warehouses, etc.). The tax base is the cadastral income, equal to 50% of the cadastral rental value of the building (i.e. the value set by the administration). For social reasons, there are many exemptions and exceptions. In 2005, the product amounted to 17.73 billion euros.

Taxes by source

Structure of the taxation by administration.
Structure of the taxation in France by source

In 2007, revenues amounted to 818.9 billion euros, or 43.3% of GDP.

There are four beneficiaries of the tax revenues: in 2007, social security administrations have received just over half; the state and the central government bodies near a third; the local administrations (APUL) nearly 13%; the European Union (EU) less than 1%. Direct and indirect taxes account for 62.8% of total revenues in 2007. State resources come almost entirely from taxes. The social security bodies are financed largely by social contributions but also by taxes, including the general social contribution (CSG) and the contribution for the repayement of the social debt (CRDS), which represented in 2007 a quarter of the funding of the Social Security administrations. Local administrations are mostly financed by the four main local direct taxes (housing tax, property taxes and business tax).

Funding of each administration by source in 2007 in%
Administration Direct taxes Indirect taxes Social contributions
State 39.5 57.6 3.0
Central government bodies 54.5 45.5 0
Social Security Administration 19.8 9 71.2
Local government 62.3 37.7 0
Total charges 27.1 35.7 37.2
Funds for each administration in 2007
public administration in billion €  % of the total  % of the GDP
central government 292.5 37.9 17.1
ASSO 360,1 47,9 21,1
APUL 95,2 12,7 5,6
UE 4,5 0,6 0,3
Total 752,2 100,0 44,0

Public finances

The public deficit amounted to 2.9% of the GDP (€ 50.6 billion) in 2007 compared to 0.2% on average in the euro zone, excluding France. The actual deficit may exceed the threshold of 3% if the situation deteriorates. The public debt amounted in 2007 to 63.9% of GDP, which represents 47 000 € per person employed. Public debt has increased in the last years, and the expenditures to repay the interests have reached 52 billion € in 2007 or 2000 € per person in employment.

The deficit of social security administrations remains at € 11bn, but the corresponding debt ("social debt") has increased. The deficit of local administrations is still limited, but amounted to 7 € bn in 2007, as a result of a spending growth significantly higher than that of the revenue in the reent years. As for the net tax revenue of the central government, it remained in 2007 at the same level as in 2004, whereas the total revenues rose by 51 billion € since 2004, because of increasing transfers of reveues to social security and local authorities to reduce their deficit (€70 bn in 2007). In 2007 France's central government took in revenues of approximately €272 billion and had expenditures of €354 billion. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately €42 billion.

Although deficits have been commonplace, efforts have been made in recent years to cut back the growth of taxes and government spending. Deficit reduction became a top priority of the government when France committed to the European Monetary Union. The Maastricht Treaty targets for the EMU required the members countries to reduce the government's budget deficit to 3% of GDP and the public debt to 60% of GDP.

Recent evolution

Evolution of the structure of the taxation in France by public administration since 1980

The evolution of the level of the tax burden since the early 70s can be divided into three distinct phases. First, during the 70s and in the first half of the 80s, the tax rate has increased from 34% to 42%. Then it stabilized at a rate close to 42% until the early 90s, when he has resumed its growth rate to the historical height of 44.9% in 1999. Since then, the rate of PO government has declined slightly to between 43% and 44% of the GDP.

Over the last decades, the distribution of tax burden between the three main administrations has changed significantly. The share allocated to the state has tended to decline, while that allocated to the social security institutions and local governments has grew. The higher tax rate of social security is due to the general upward trend of social spending, particularly the higher spending on pension and health assuarnce system. The pension expenditure grew from 11% of the GDP in 1981 to 13% in 2007, and health spending increased from 6% of the GDP to 10% in 2006 over the same period.

Funding of the Social Security
Source 1978 1991 2007
Contributions 97% 95% 72%
Taxes
among which CSG
3%
-
5%
2%
28%
19%

In this context, the structure of the funding of the social security administrations has been more and more assured by taxes rather than social contributions. In particular, new taxes were levied to help fund the social security administrations, such as the general social contribution (CSG) and the contribution for the repayment of the social debt (CRDS). More recently, the central government has help funding the social security administrations by the revenues from the excise on alcohol and tobacco, in part to offset reductions in social contributions. As for the the growth of the revenues for the benefit of local administrations, it is only due to the devolution, begun with the 1992 laws, and continued with the reforms in 2003.

History of taxes in France

The tax system has never been united in France. There have always been an extreme diversity in collection, the base, the rates and the nature of the taxes. Until 1789, taxes were collected by the state, the church and lords. After the French revolution, taxes consisted of taxes on wealth and on incomes. The current tax system was shaped during the twentieth century. All taxes created under the French Revolution were abolished, the last being the patentes, abolished in 1974. Whereas taxation aimed at assuring "the maintenance of the public force" and "the expenditures of the admiistrations"(Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen de 1789), taxation is now aiming at assuring efficient public services and a fair distribution of the wealth and the income.

Historically, most taxes have been paid either or in shares of harvest (dime and champart) or work (corvée, military service). Gradually, each of these taxes has been replaced by a cash contribution for being more convenient for both the beneficiary and the taxpayer. The taille, created in the fourteenth century, was one of the oldest taxes levied by the French monarchy. It was replaced by the fouage. Under the Old Regime, the collection of taxes was leased, ie that the State entrusted the task to entrepreneurs, big farmers, who paid the amount of the tax to be levied, then levied the tax for themselves. The system was convenient for the both the state (the revenue was anticipated and it was disposed of the unpopularity of tax collectors) and for big farmers (the bargain was very profitable). However, the people considered the collection mainly a source of injustice and excesses.

Some notable indirect taxes under the Old Regime were the aides (indirect taxes collected by the state, applying to beverages), the banalités (tax imposed by the lords for the use of mills, ovens and wine presses), the casuel (collected by the Church at baptisms, marriages and funerals), the cens (tax collected by the lords, for the use of their land), the champart (collected by the lords, paid by an amount of the crops of grains), the dîme (collected by the church, applying to all the lands), the gabelle (collected by the king, for the consuption of salt), the minage (collected by the king or the lords, for the sales of grains at fairs and markets). There were three direct taxes, created between the fifteen and the eighteen centuries: the taille, the capitation and the dixième. The taille, created in the fifteen century and used for more than three centuries, applied to incomes from ownership, housing, farm land and breeding. The capitation, created in 1695,was a tax on property, in addition to the taille. The dixième, created in 1710, applied to all the income from any ownership (land, real estate, annuities), at a rate of 10% (dixieme meaning thenth). In 1749, it was replaced by the vingtième (twentieth, i.e. a tax with a rate of 5%).

The French Revolution transformed the tax system completely. The former system was abolished. The parliament, on behalf of the people, took control of the right to levy taxes (the sovereign loses this right), destroyed all statutes and tax privileges (of the nobility and clergy, but also the provinces, cities, corporations, etc.) planned to establish a fair proportional contribution and made these changes official in the Declaration of Human Rights and the Citizen of 1789. Four direct taxes were created in the late 1700s, applying only to wealth: the land contribution, the housing contribution, the patentes (industry and trade), and the contribution from doors and windows.

Throughout the nineteenth century, taxes changed little. Taxes from the Revolution remained, i.e. taxes on wealth (taxes foncières) on the professional activity (the patente, ancestor of the taxe professionnelle), and many indirect taxes and "droits" applied to the trade of goods (inheritance, purchase of real estate). From the middle of the nineteen century, there were debates for the creation of an income tax, proposed by Proudhon in 1848, then by Gambetta in 1869. In 1872, a tax on incomes from real estate was created. In 1876, Gambetta rpoposed to create a proportional tax on all incomes. The only result is the creation in 1896 of a tax on incomes from the stock exchange.

Before 1914, taxes mainly applied to the wealth (wealth, land, inheritance) or incomes from wealth. The tax burden did not exceed 10%. Many propositions, succesively from Doumer, Cavaignac and Waldeck-Rousseau, failed, due to the opposition of the right. It was the Great War which gave the opportunity to create a tax on income, in 1917, thanks to Joseph Caillaux, the minister of Finances. At the same time, the four contributions created in 1790 and 1791 were turned into local taxes, and replaced by the income tax as the main national tax.

After the Second Word War, the tax system underwent a certain number of reforms aiming at modernizing and adapting it.The income tax was adapted and old contributions abolished. A family quotient was created in 1945. The business tax was created in 1948, reformed in 1959. Finally, the last significant innovation in technical terms, the VAT was introduced in 1954. Then the French example was adopted gradually in most developed countries. Adopted throughout Europe, it will be unanimously considered the best tax to finance the governments of the European Union. The French tax system is currently controversial with the development of the European Union and globalization. Tax competition has risen sharply, and it becomes necessary to take into account the legal possibilities to avoid paying taxes (the practice of expatriation is legal, unlike tax evasion).

See also

References

External links


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