France’s first round of presidential elections will be held this week, plus the UK has finally made it onto the green list for travel, and it’s time to file your French tax return. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. France’s Presidential Elections
The first round of France’s long-awaited presidential elections takes place this Sunday, April 10th. As is the tradition in France, election days are scheduled for a Sunday, and the polling stations will be open from 8 am to 7 pm or 8 pm in most areas. By 8 pm that night, the exit poll (which is based on samples of the result, so it’s generally accurate) will be published, but the official results won’t be announced until Monday morning.
After this first round of votes, either the candidate with the absolute majority (more than 50%) will be elected President (although this is very unlikely to happen), or the top two candidates with the most votes will move through to the second round of elections held in two weeks time on Sunday, April 24th.
The most recent polls have shown far-right candidate Marine Le Pen gaining on current President Emmanuel Macron’s lead, but perhaps the biggest concern expressed by political pundits is voter apathy – polls also indicate record numbers of French voters plan to abstain from voting and voter turnout is expected to be a record low. During a rally last Saturday, President Macron sounded anything but complacent as he insisted: “Nothing is impossible. Look at what happened with Brexit and so many other elections: what looked improbable actually happened.”
2. UK Moved to France’s Green List
From March 31st, the UK has finally been moved onto France’s Green list for travel. This is great news for second home owners and those with friends and family between France and the UK, making it possible for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers to enter France without the need for an essential reason.
Better still, it means vaccinated travellers no longer need to present a sworn declaration or take a Covid test prior to departure—all you need is proof of vaccination. For unvaccinated travellers, the process is also a lot simpler. You will still need to provide proof of a negative antigen taken within 48 hours or PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, but the sworn declaration, passenger locator forms, and self-isolation period are no longer required.
3. France Income Tax Declarations Open
France’s online portal for making income tax declarations opens this Thursday, April 7th. If you are resident in France, it is your responsibility to file your annual tax return, and almost all residents (aside from those in select professions) are required to do so – even if you are retired, do not receive any income from French sources, or do not have any taxes to pay (as is now the case for most French employees who are taxed under the PAYE scheme).
From April 7th, you can log in to your tax account here (or if it’s your first time filing a return, read our guide to filling in your first tax return), and submit your tax declaration for your 2021 earnings online. The deadlines for submitting your French tax return range from late May through early June, depending upon whether you submit an online or postal declaration and the French departement in which you live. Our 2022 French Tax Calendar has all the key dates for your diary.
4. Property Taxes Set to Rise
On the subject of taxes, there’s some bad news for French homeowners regarding the taxe foncière (property tax), payable by all property owners. The tax is set to see its largest increase since 1989, with taxes on the rentable value of a property shooting up by 3.4%.
There is some respite regarding property taxes, though. The Taxe d’habitation, payable by the property inhabitant, is being phased out, with less than 20% of the population still liable to pay in 2022, and Emmanuel Macron has also announced plans to abolish the annual TV licence (€138) if he is re-elected.
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