French Tax FAQS: What if I File My Tax Return Late?
The deadlines for filing your annual tax return in France run from late May through the first week of June, and everyone living in France (as well as some non-residents) must, by law, complete a return by these dates. Our French Tax Calendar will make sure you stay up-to-date with these all-important dates, but what happens if you do forget and miss the deadline? Here’s our advice.
What should I do if I’ve forgotten to fill in my French tax return?
Whether you weren’t aware of your French tax liabilities or the deadline slipped your mind, it’s imperative that you go ahead and file your tax return as soon as you become aware of your error. Unfortunately, there are associated late fees and fines (we’ll get to that in a moment), but the longer you wait, the higher the fees, so the best advice we can give you is to go ahead and submit your return as soon as possible.
Filing a late tax return
If you typically file your tax return online, you should be able to find any missed declarations in your personal space on the impots.gouv.fr and can submit the declaration online in the same way you would have done prior to the deadline. For paper returns, it’s a good idea to take it in directly to your local tax office if you can—this will be the quickest way to submit your return and will also allow you to make your excuses and receive some advice on how to minimise any late fees.
Errors on your French tax return
Note that if you have submitted your tax return by the deadline but then realise that you’ve made an error or omitted something, it is possible to make these corrections after the deadline without being fined as long as you do so before the deadline for tax return corrections. For more on this, see our article French Tax FAQ: What If I’ve Made a Mistake & Need to Amend My Tax Return?
What are the penalties for filing a late tax return in France?
As previously mentioned, there are penalties involved in filing a French tax return after the deadline, and there are also penalties for late payment of any income taxes owed. The applicable fees depend upon how late you submitted your tax declaration or made the payment:
- If you haven’t filed your tax return on time, you will typically be sent a formal request by signed-for delivery known as a ‘mise en demeure’. If you file your tax return before you receive this notice, then you will be subject to pay an extra 10% on top of any tax owed.
- If you have received a mise en demeure, you will then have 30 days to submit your tax return and will be subject to pay an extra 20% on top of any tax owed.
- If you have received a mise en demeure but then take longer than 30 days to submit your tax return, you will be subject to pay an extra 40% on top of any tax owed.
For late payment, non-payment, or partial payment, penalties also apply from 45 days after receiving your tax bill:
- You will be subject to pay an extra 10% on top of any tax owed.
- On top of that, an additional 0.2%/month interest rate can be applied to any tax owed.
Finally, if the French tax authorities find out about any activity or income that has not been declared on your French tax return, you will be hit with the highest penalty of all – a whopping 80% surcharge. Which is one very good reason that you should come forward and declare any errors or omissions immediately – read our guide French Tax FAQ: What If I’ve Made a Mistake & Need to Amend My Tax Return?
What if I missed filing my tax return due to special circumstances?
There may occasionally be circumstances that warrant an extension being granted for filing your French tax, for example, a death in the family or serious illness. In this case, an official written request must be made to the tax authorities, along with supporting documents (such as an official medical report) attesting to the extenuating circumstances. If this applies to you, you should contact your local tax office as soon as possible to find out how to proceed. However, each case is assessed on an individual basis, and there is no guarantee that the extension will be granted, so this should only be considered as a last resort for extreme cases.
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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