Finance Act 2013: real estate tax exemptions will be spared

2013 promises to be a good year for real estate investors in France. After seeing the tax reductions from the “Loi Scellier” diminish each year, the latest announcements and rumours spread around the future Finance Act 2013 suggest that the coming year will be particularly good for those who wish to invest in France as these tax breaks will support the market.

The renewal of the “Loi Girardin” for housing in the Dom Tom, the overseas departments and territories of France, will see the continuation of a tax deduction capped at 18,000 euros for investors fiscally resident in France. The “Loi Malraux”, for investors in Historic Monuments, will also be renewed under the same conditions. Finally, the “Loi Scellier”, which was so popular and helped keep transactions numbers up over the past 3 years, will be discarded in favour of a new law which will have a tax benefit capped at 10,000 euros.

 

As the majority of the existing tax laws will be maintained, investors will benefit from as many tax reductions in 2013 as 2012. The French government has decided to take a little more time to take the full measure of the housing market and levers at its disposal to stimulate the construction of social housing. The tax incentive to increase the sale of construction land, which was recently passed by the National Assembly, will lead to the creation of new housing in 24 to 48 months. The Hollande Government think it is necessary to maintain the current tax advantages for investment in property for rental until the increase in new property construction kicks in as more land is sold for construction.

In this tense economic climate, it is likely that 2013 will be the last year to take advantage of significant tax cuts on investment in private rental investment for those fiscally resident in France. The Duflot law should allow French investors to get an interesting net investment profitability despite the capped rents provided by the law. This activity will help to support the French property market and French property prices. For the international investor, France continues to offer an attractive mix of soft property prices and French mortgage options at extremely low rates.


Last day to pay French land tax

Notice to all French property owners. Today is the last day to pay your French land tax. Payment to the tax administration must be done by midnight on Monday 15th of October. Those who wish to pay online can wait until Saturday 20th midnight before a penalty could be issued. If you are paying online for the first time, you need to have your tax assessment and bank account details ready as they will be required as well as your tax reference number and tax assessment number.

Note that the calculation of the French land tax is automatically done by the fiscal administration and doesn’t need any declaration except if landlords have proceeded to major changes such as building a new room.


French land tax has soared over the past five years

French land tax (Taxe Foncière) increased by 21% nationally between 2006 and late 2011, three times faster than inflation and the rent price index.

Local Councils and Authorities increased Taxe Foncière, which is paid by the owners of a property and not by the tenants, by 21% nationally between 2006 and late 2011, three times faster than inflation, the rent price index or the revaluation of retirement pensions, according to a study of the National Union of Property Owners (UNPI).

Rental value

The tax base for Taxe Foncière is the land rental value, which is the calculated annual rent estimation done by the Local Authority, which is the average market value less 50%. “Today, some owners are forced to pay almost the equivalent of an annual rent when you add up the various costs: Taxe Foncière (35% of the rental value which represents four months of rent), Taxe d’Habitation, VAT pay for the maintenance, etc… “Jean Perrin, president of the UNPI said.

Properties are easy to tax as they are assets that you cannot relocate. “Taxe d’Habitation weighs more on the household budget owners as it is paid by those renting a property from an owner, sometimes they represent up to the equivalent of three months rent, salary or pension,” says the UNPI, which represents small private landlords. At the end of 2011, the national average for Taxe Foncière reached 35.65% of average annual rent of a property as estimated by the local council (excluding additional fees for equipment and garbage collection).

Financial needs

The fast rise of the Taxe Foncière reflects the growing financial needs of local councils and authorities due to the recent decentralization and the decrease of income related to the drop in real estate transactions. “A Taxe d’Habitation increase is politically more difficult to announce, so we have increased the Taxe Foncière, which affects only the owners. In the past five years, Taxe Foncière has risen twice as fast as the Taxe d’Habitation.” Jean Perrin said.

On the 50 largest cities in France, Paris has known the highest Taxe Foncière increase between 2006 and the end of 2011 (+68%) due to the introduction of a city tax in 2009. In three other cities, this tax has increased by more than 30%: Argenteuil (+ 34.79%), Nantes (+ 30.64%) and Saint-Denis (+ 30.15%). However some cities have experienced five years of tax increases below average: Toulouse (+ 18.42%), Marseille (+ 15.34%), Lyon (+ 15.11%), Strasbourg and Bordeaux (14% each).

But the change must be compared with the existing tax rate. For instance, despite a moderate raise, the land tax rates of Nimes and Orleans are among the highest at the end of 2011 (respectively 52.9% and 45.6%). Even if the tax has jumped in Paris, it remains one of the lowest in France (13.5% at the end of 2011). The lowest rates are for property in Paris and its close suburbs.