Real life stories
As a professional gite business owner who has also currently and rather bizarrely found herself being a part-time teacher in France (after very definitively leaving the teaching profession in the UK) and also being a writer for FrenchEntrée.com, the serious business of a French tax return requires the need to be well-organised throughout the year. In this way, the rather daunting Tax Return becomes easy-peasy.
This article isn’t meant to offer expert tax advice (for that, see our tax guides), but hopefully, it will give you a few tips that I use to keep my own accounts in order.
How do I keep my accounts as a Micro-Entreprise?
The biggest tip here is to write everything down throughout the year – tax returns are only filled in once a year, but you’ll need all the figures and totals ready when you do.
An old-fashioned ledger suffices, or if you are computer savvy, a simple spreadsheet detailing every euro and centime coming in and by what means from whom (with their address and Facture number) and when, in date order. Any refunds going out also need to be recorded clearly too.
It is good business practice to log any purchases or business expenses separately each month to ensure a check is being kept on profit margins. In France, as a micro-entreprise, any purchases, fuel, or expenses cannot be offset against the business – it works differently to the UK system and to other French business regimes.
Monthly totals and trimestral totals, plus an annual final income amount need to be noted separately. This makes it easy at tax teturn time as all the figures are there, ready to go. In France, the final amount will always be rounded up – for example €20449.34, will become €20450.
Next year, in line with new government requirements, all factures will need to be raised using an online system (logiciel) and so the whole process should be even simpler.
I also save my URSAFF cotisations/social charges in a file, as they accumulate each trimester.
Recording other income
Working for the French state, my meagre (certainly by UK standards!) salary is obviously recorded, and I keep a running total of the ‘brut’ (gross) figures each month on a simple spreadsheet. The same goes for payment from FrenchEntrée and any other income.
I then have a running total for each month and an annual total for each income stream. This is also declared on my tax return.
Bank accounts and worldwide income
A big thing to remember for all expats in France, is that you must declare all worldwide bank accounts on your tax return – so, I make sure I keep a note of any UK accounts that I have. However, you don’t have to declare the amount in the accounts (of course, you DO need to declare any overseas work/pension/investment/rental income that might be received in those accounts).
If you pay to join a professional Association, ask for an official receipt as this cost is deductible from your Impots. You just need to keep the official records and enter it into the correct box on your tax return.
Using an accountant or tax specialist
If you are able to understand French and feel reasonably confident with the language, there is no reason why you should not be able to complete your own tax return form online. Once you have done one, provided the form does not alter, you can always use that as a template for the following year.
However, most of us feel happier with some reassurance and it may be advisable to seek professional help. An accountant can be very costly however, if they help you to do everything correctly and avoid any huge penalty in the event of a ‘controle’, then it is surely money well-spent.
There are some absolutely excellent professional hand-holders out there. Just do your homework well and remember that YOU are ultimately responsible and liable for your own tax return, unless you use a professional tax advisor. My advice would be to try to work hand-in-hand with any ‘hand-holder’ so that you are driving your own professional development and you are learning as you go.
We found our advisor through a recommendation from our estate agent when we bought our house. She was an official court translator at the time and she helped us to jump through many legal hoops in our early days. She has proved invaluable.
Since then, our French friends have subsequently recommended an accountant to us. For us, a personal recommendation is really important.
Using France Services offices
France Services offices are popping up all over in mairies, tax offices and town centres. Experts are there to help you complete your tax return and, in my experience, are really friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to help. Their advice is free and you may well learn all sorts. Look up your local service using the link above or ask at your local mairie. Make sure to take a notebook and pen!
Don’t miss the deadline!
The French tax year runs from January to December (unlike in the UK, where it’s April to April) and so declarations made in this year are for last year’s income. This means that in 2023, you will be declaring your taxes for the year 2022.
In 2023, tax declarations opened from April 13th and MUST be completed by May 25th for departments 1 to 16 which is most definitely us in the gorgeous Charente – alternatively check out our 2023 tax calendar for the deadlines for your department.
It is simply a case of entering everything into the correct boxes!
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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