French Tax FAQ: What If I’ve Made a Mistake & Need to Amend My Tax Return?
France’s annual tax season runs over a period of six to eight weeks in April and May, during which time all French residents (and some second-home owners) must file a tax return. But what happens if you realise that you’ve made an error on your tax return or have forgotten something after already submitting it? How can you amend your tax declaration in France, and what is the deadline for making changes? Here’s what you need to know.
I’ve made a mistake on my French tax return. Help!
Perhaps there was a foreign revenue source that slipped your mind, a figure you forgot to add to your accounts, or maybe you’ve been reading FrenchEntrée’s series of French tax guides or speaking to expat friends who have drawn your attention to an error or omission. First of all, don’t worry! The French tax system can be a minefield to navigate, both for locals and expats, and making a mistake can happen to the best of us.
The good news is that you can correct your error up until mid-December of the same year, and no fines are issued for amendments made up until this point.
Should I come forward if I’ve made an error on my French tax form?
Yes! We can’t stress enough how important it is to correct your tax return if you know that you’ve made a mistake. Firstly, there are no penalties for making a correction up until the deadline, so it’s a no-brainer! But even in the instance that you miss the deadline, the French tax authorities are always considerably more lenient with individuals who come forward of their own accord and admit their mistakes. On the flip side, if you leave it to the French tax authorities to find out your mistake, they can (and very likely will) issue the full fines and/or penalties in accordance with the tax code.
We hear from lots of worried expats each year who have made genuine mistakes (or are unsure if they’ve made a mistake) and aren’t sure if they should try and fix it, and our advice is ALWAYS to come forward and tell the tax office of your mistake as soon as possible. It is simply not worth taking the risk.
When is the deadline for correcting my 2023 French tax return?
If you have submitted your tax return online prior to the tax deadline and realise your mistake straight away, you can edit your tax return online up to the initial deadline (see our 2023 French tax calendar for the deadlines depending on your department). After this deadline has lapsed, the online rectification system is closed down for several weeks (June through July) while the tax returns are processed.
If you have an error to correct at this point, you will need to wait until August, when the error rectification system reopens, and you will have until December to make any corrections. The official date for 2023 hasn’t actually been released yet, but it’s typically the last day of November or mid-December.
What happens if I miss the deadline for making changes?
Fines may be issued for amendments or corrections after the deadline, and it is important to try and avoid this at all costs. If you know you have made a mistake, make sure that you correct it before the deadline.
However, there are instances, especially for expats new to the French tax system, where you simply aren’t made aware of your mistake until later. Again, we ALWAYS advise that you come forward with your mistake or query to the French tax authorities. The best way to do this after the deadline has passed is by booking an appointment at your local tax office (you can do this via your tax account) and taking your concern to them directly. If you aren’t able to visit in person, a polite and apologetic message sent via your tax account and requesting that they correct the issue is the next best thing.
In cases where you have made a genuine mistake and come forward, they are almost always lenient, and although you will, of course, need to correct the mistake and pay any extra taxes owed, fines are often waived in these situations, especially for first-time offences. However, as we said before, if you leave this to the tax office to find out of their own accord (and they very likely will!), you will undoubtedly be hit with a fine and/or other penalties. We’ll say it again: it’s not worth the risk!
How to amend your French tax return: online forms
If you have submitted your tax return online, you can simply edit your tax return via your tax account by logging into your personal on impots.gouv.fr. You will be able to amend your income details, charges, tax cuts and credits, real estate wealth tax (IFI), and details of dependents, as well as add or delete supporting documents.
You can also report a change of address under the “Gérer mon profil”/ “Signaler mon changement d’adresse” section.
An exception is made if you wish to change marital status, in which case you will need to send a letter of amendment to the tax office as with paper returns (see below).
See the official rules for amending your tax return here.
How to amend your French tax return: paper forms
If you filled in a paper form, which applies to all expats filling in a tax return for the first time, you must send a letter to your local tax office alongside a new, amended tax form (which you can download here). DECLARATION OF AMENDMENT, CANCELATION AND REPLACEMENT should be clearly marked on the first page.
In this circumstance, it’s advisable to book an appointment at your local tax office – take your new form with you, and they can help advise you on the right procedure.
How can I avoid making mistakes on my French tax return?
If you live in France or receive French income, it’s absolutely essential to read up on the requirements for filing your tax return in France. Our FrenchEntrée Essential Reading guides are a great place to start, but if you need extra help, get in touch, and we’ll put you in touch with one of our tax advisors.
Common rules that catch out expats are the need to file a tax return even if you have no income to declare or taxes to pay (ALL French residents must file a tax return), the need to declare all worldwide income (even if taxes have already been paid in another country), and the requirement to declare all overseas bank accounts and life insurance policies (even if they are empty or receive no interest!).
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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