News Digest: Pension Reforms, Tax Rises on Second Homes & La Rentrée



News Digest: Pension Reforms, Tax Rises on Second Homes & La Rentrée

With September and La Rentrée just around the corner, Macron’s controversial pension reforms are set to come into force, and more communes have announced raising taxes on second homes. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.

1. Macron’s pension reforms come into action

Macron’s controversial pension reforms caused months of strike action and protests during the first half of 2023, leading the government to evoke the equally controversial Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to push the bill through parliament. The bill was eventually signed into law in April, but it’s this Friday, September 1st, when the reforms actually come into effect.

So, what happens now? As of September, the minimum retirement age in France will be increased to 64 instead of the previous 62, but this won’t happen all at once. Instead, it will gradually increase (extending by a few months each year) until 2030. The minimum length of time required to work in France (and pay social security contributions) to receive a full pension in France will also increase gradually to 43 years. The reforms also see the end of many of France’s ‘special pension regimes’, and a raise in the minimum full pension amount to €848 per month.

Read our guide to French pensions.

2. Second-home taxes on the rise

2023 saw the abolition of the Taxe d’Habitation on all primary residences in France, but second-home owners still remain liable for the property tax and, as a result, many have seen their tax bill go up. The increased rates of Taxe d’Habitation on second homes are part of a move to reduce the amount of second homes and vacant properties in areas known as “zones tendues” – communes where there is a known property shortage and tightening of the housing market. In these areas, local communes have the right to increase the Taxe d’Habitation by up to 60%, but in order to do so, they must apply for permission by October 1st of the preceding year.

2023 already saw many new communes added to the list of zones tendues, with many opting to implement tax increases. Now, it has been announced that a further 2,263 communes have been authorised to increase their taxes in 2024. You can consult the full list of communes (including those already on the list in 2023) here.

Note that for communes newly added to this list, these changes will only apply from January 1st, 2024; they will not be applied to this year’s tax bills. Also, this only concerns the authorisation of a commune to raise taxes; it does not specify the amount by which the taxes will increase. Communes will have the right to increase taxes on second homes and vacant properties by anything from 5% to 60% as they see fit.

3. C’est la rentrée !

This week also marks the end of the summer holidays in France, and “La Rentrée” – the day when French schoolchildren return to school – is set for Monday, September 4th. However, in France, La Rentrée doesn’t only refer to schoolkids. It’s also used to denote the return to work for businesses and workers after their summer vacations (the ‘reprise du travail’), the return of the French government to parliament (la rentrée politique), and the ‘reprise’ (resumption) of sports clubs, associations, and activities. Expect to hear French colleagues, neighbours, and friends talking (and likely grumbling!) about ‘la Rentréeand ‘la reprise’ over the next week or so.

On the plus side, this also means a return to normal to services and businesses, so it’s a good time to start booking appointments, launching your property renovation project, or signing up for a new gym, sports club, or recreational activity.

4. Moving to France? Sign up for our latest webinar

If you’re looking to move to France, be sure to attend our latest FrenchEntrée webinar, Your Moving to France To-Do List: Visas, Healthcare, Paperwork, where I’ll be joined by an expert advisor from relocation specialists Please Help. We’ll be talking you through all the steps of moving to France, from securing your visa to enrolling in the French healthcare system, changing your driving licence, and all the official steps you’ll need to take to set up your new life in France.

As always, there will be plenty of opportunities to put your questions directly to our expert, and you can also send them to me in advance at [email protected]. Join me on Thursday, 21st September, at 2:00pm GMT+1 (London time) 3:00pm (Paris time) – sign up here.

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FrenchEntrée's Digital Editor, Zoë is also a freelance journalist who has written for the Telegraph, HuffPost, and CNN, and a guidebook updater for the Rough Guide to France and Rough Guide to Dordogne & Lot. She lives in the French countryside just outside of Nantes.

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