Taxe d’habitation and the French bureacracy

June 29, 2019

In France, there are two types of property tax, taxe foncière, which is paid by the property owner, and taxe d’habitation, paid by the resident as of January 1 of that year.

View from my front door

After seven years, I am moving out of my rental in Brittany. I still plan to visit the region every year, but maintaining a year-round house is too much.

View from my bedroom skylight

I consider myself an expert at moving, but there are a few things that are different from moving in the U.S. and moving in France. One has to do with the condition in which you must leave the home (more on that in an upcoming post).

Gulf of Morbihan oyster beds

Another difference is that you have to think to “cancel” your taxe d’habitation, or so I thought. I couldn’t remember when I moved out of my rental apartment in Paris in 2012 if I had notified anyone in the tax office of my departure. But I don’t think I had to then, because I was moving within Paris.

Gulf of Morbihan

After getting nowhere with this question by emailing with the Centre de finance public in Vannes (Morbihan), my local office, I decided to just show up in person.

Morbihan coastline (SaintGildas-de-Rhuys)

The woman who helped me was very nice and there was no wait. But that is where the positives about my visit end. I explained my situation, that I was moving out of a secondary residence July 5th and needed to stop my monthly automatic tax payments. Then our conversation went something like this:

Her: You don’t have to do anything.

Me: But how will the tax office know I moved?

Her: They will see you live somewhere else now.

Me: But I am not moving to a new second home. This is/was never my primary residence. Will the real estate agent notify the tax office? [Note: I knew the answer to this question was no, but I thought the question might help her understand my overarching question.]

Her: No, it’s automatic.

Me: But how will they know I will?

Her: They will. C’est comme ça.

Me: It’s like what?

Her: How do I explain this…. [look of frustration with me]… There are people in each town. They know where people live.

Me: But how? They will come to my house and see if I’m home?

Her: They just know.

Me: But I have only been using the house occasionally. So how will they know this time when I leave, I’ve actually moved out? Will the owner of the house notify them? [Note: again, I know the owner will do no such thing, but…]

Her: No, it’s automatic.

Me: But I have automatic monthly payments set up.

Her: Then you can just end them.

Me: Right now? But don’t I owe for all of 2019? I am allowed to just end the payments without proof of moving out?

Her: Here, call this number [she hands me a very small piece of paper with a 1-800 number]. They can tell you.

Me: [Realizing we are getting nowhere] OK, thank you.

Morbihan coastline (Quiberon)

So to recap: I got absolutely nowhere. I will try calling the number she gave me on Monday.



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