Filling in Your 2023 French Tax Return: The BASICS (Step-by-Step)
French tax season is upon us, and if you are resident in France, you must, by law, file a tax return this May (see our 2023 French tax calendar for the official deadlines). For expats in France, filling in a tax return often means additional requirements, such as declaring overseas bank accounts and worldwide income, or requesting tax credits on overseas pension or rental income. Let’s take a look at the basics of what you’ll need to fill in on your 2023 French tax return – step by step.
Note: The screenshots in this article are taken from the tax declaration of a micro-entrepreneur and some sections have been pre-filled based on past declarations – your own tax return may vary slightly from this one, depending on your work situation and past tax returns. This article is intended as a rough guide to the tax form itself and the different sections you may need to fill in.
Your 2023 French tax return: form 2042
The main tax return ‘Form 2042’, also titled ‘Déclaration principale’ (online) and ‘Déclaration des revenus 2022′ (paper form), must be filled in by everyone resident in France, as well as non-residents with French income (see our guide Second Home Owners: Do I Need to File a French Tax Return?), even if you have no income to declare or are not liable to pay any taxes. In 2023, you will be declaring your income from the previous year, 2022.
If it’s your very first time filling in a French tax return, you will need to submit a paper form, which you can download here. Everyone else will need to file their annual tax return online.
You can access the digital version of Form 2042 by logging into your account on the government tax website at impots.gouv.fr.
If you haven’t already set up your online account, find out How to Get a French Numero Fiscal & Open Your Online Tax Account.
Start your 2023 tax declaration – ‘Déclaration des revenus’
Step 1 / Étape 1
The first few pages of your online tax return will ask you to confirm your basic personal information, including your name, address, and date of birth. This is also the moment to declare any change of status, such as a marriage/PACS, divorce, or a death if you haven’t already. Be sure to verify that all the information is correct before you move on.
Step 2 / Étape 2
The ‘déclaration par un mandataire ou un tiers de confiance’ is for those filling in the tax return on behalf of someone else.
The ‘renseignements personnels’ section concerns your fiscal household – this is where you will declare the birth of a child or any children under your charge, as well as your ‘situation familiale’ (whether you are single, married, PACSed, etc)
Declaring income, rental income, pensions, and bank accounts
Step 3 / Étape 3
The ‘Revenus et charges’ section is the bulk of the tax return and is where you will enter information regarding both your French and worldwide income, whether from work, pensions, property rentals, investments, or other.
Rubriques & annexes
First up, you will be asked to select the ‘rubriques’ required – these are the different sections of income declaration, e.g. traitements et salaires (wages and salaries), pension de retraite (pension income) or micro-entreprise (professional micro-entrepreneur activity).
There are also several ‘annexe’ forms (ancillary forms) that you may need to include in your tax return. The options online will often be customised to you and your past tax declarations, so if you do need an additional annexe, you might need to search for it – use the search box and enter either the name of the form or a related word (in French).
Here are some of the most common required by expats and property owners in France:
2042K – is for declaring your French salary
2042C PRO is for declaring income as a micro-entrepreneur and for furnished property rentals.
2042C is for declaring foreign investments and capital gains.
2042-IFI is for declaring French wealth tax.
2047 is for declaring income from foreign sources, including UK government pension and rental income where tax has already been paid in the UK.
2044 is for declaring income from property rentals under the réel system.
3916-3016-BIS is for declaring overseas bank accounts and life insurance policies
2086 is for declaring crypto-currency investments.
Declaring your income
Once you’ve selected the forms you need, you will then move through several pages of forms, where you will be asked to declare your all your different income sources, relevant charges and deductions, and ‘divers’ (miscellaneous) revenue sources. Remember that you should be declaring all worldwide income on your French tax form, so if there’s something you know you have missed, make sure to search for the relevant form.
Declaring foreign bank accounts on your French tax return
If you have foreign bank accounts to declare, make sure you also check the box ‘8UU’ under ‘Divers’. You will then be prompted to enter the number of accounts and fill in a separate form for each account. You’ll be asked for the account number, address, the date of opening and closing (if relevant) of the account. The boxes marked with an * are essential, so don’t leave any blank spaces – if you don’t know the exact opening date of the account, do your best to estimate the year that it was opened – you won’t be required to provide proof of this.
If you’ve forgotten to declare an account in previous years, it’s imperative to declare it as soon as possible – fines are more-often-than-not waived when individuals come forward of their own account. If you are worried that you haven’t declared it on previous forms, the best course of action is to send a message to the tax office or add a note to your declaration stating this mistake and asking them to please update the information accordingly (more on this below).
Read our full article French Tax FAQ: Do I Need to Declare Foreign Bank Accounts & Life Insurance Policies?
Signing your tax return
Step 4 / Étape 4
The final step is to sign your tax return and send off your declaration. At this stage, you will be able to view all your declared income from various sources under the ‘déclaration de revenus’ section, followed by an estimation of your income tax total (Estimation de vote impôt net après crédits d’impôt) and the outstanding amount that you will need to pay (Montant restant à payer). You can also confirm or change the payment details by adding your bank RIB.
Be sure to double-check that all the information is correct and that you are happy with the income tax calculations before clicking ‘signer ma declaration‘.
Adding a note or receiving help with your tax return
If you have any concerns or additional information that you want to add to your tax return, it’s a good idea to add a note to alert tax officers to your query. Examples of this might be when you’re declaring an overseas bank account that you’ve previously forgotten to declare and therefore wish to update previous tax returns (and hopefully get out of a fine!), or advising the tax office of the currency exchange calculations you used to reach the foreign income totals declared on your form. On the paper form, there is normally an ‘information’ section for this, but when declaring online, it’s best to use the online messaging service to relay any important notes.
For help with any of the forms, you can consult the ‘fiches pratiques’ linked to throughout the process. Or, for more personalised questions, use the message service within your personal space – advisers are on hand to help, and the response time is normally very quick.
Paying Your Taxes in France
Whether you are moving to France, own French property, or have business interests, assets, or investments in France—FrenchEntrée is here to help with all your tax questions. Our Essential Reading articles are designed to give you an overview of the basics, from income tax and social charges to wealth tax and property taxes. However, tax laws and rates are always subject to change, and international tax liabilities can be especially complicated, so if in doubt, we always advise discussing your personal situation with one of our recommended financial or tax advisors.
Disclaimer: This guide is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice regarding any aspect of your tax planning or tax liabilities in France. FrenchEntrée cannot be held responsible for the consequences of decisions or actions you may choose to take in connection with French tax declarations or tax liabilities.
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The désignation of the bank would be the name of the bank/organisation, for example, "HSBC". Bon courage! Zoe