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I'm currently thinking of moving to France, for something like 4-6 months, to try to get my French to a higher standard. This would only be a temporary move, and I'd remain employed in another EU country (the one where I currently live). I believe I'll remain "tax resident" in my home country, at least as far as they're concerned.

What are the rules about French Taxes in such a situation? How long can I spend living in France, employed in another EU country, before I have to register for French taxes? Does it matter when in the French tax year I arrive, or is it just on time spent? And if my trip would qualify to need to register, what would the process be, given I'll have a foreign employer?

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The criteria are described briefly on service-public.fr. As far as I can tell, your situation would not require you to register anything. It does not seem that there is a hard limit (under/over so many days). Staying more than 6 months per year would usually mean that you need to register your income but it's not clear if staying 6 months once does. Everything hinges on whether France is your “main home” and every description of this I can find includes some hedging like the “usually” in the previous sentence.

If you are liable, you will need to report your income. It's probably “easier” in France than elsewhere because, unlike any other EU country I know, France does not have a withholding/payroll tax system so that everybody needs to take care of this directly. This has to be done in the spring, for the preceding calendar year.

The date you arrive in France also matters inasmuch as some local taxes and the television license are paid by the person living in or owning a given property on January 1st. You don't have to do anything to take care of that, if you are liable, you will receive an “avis d'imposition” with the details. Incidentally, wealth tax is also calculated based on your assets on January 1st.

If it turns out that you are in fact considered a fiscal resident (or if you decide to move to France permanently), do beware: The first time around, you will have to pay all your income tax in August, for the whole year (after that you can pay in three times or arrange monthly prepayment).

Do take all this with a grain of salt as I am not a lawyer to begin with and this is an area of the law that I know even less than the rest.

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France has several tests for whether you're considered a resident. One is if you are present in France for more time than any other country in a calendar year, you are resident from the day you arrived. (if there's just two countries involved, that means you're in France for over 183 days, but it could be less if there's a third country you live in).

But, you're also resident if France is your "main family home", even if you work elsewhere (or if more of your assets are in France, among other tests).

So to be totally clear you're not resident, you should have a home elsewhere during the time you're in France, and spend less nights in France during the calendar year than any other country.

In reality though probably nobody will notice you're in France.

Sources: French-Property.com, Kentingtons.

  • 1
    As far as I can tell, the 183 days threshold is an unofficial way to determine if you have your “main family home” in France, it's not a distinct test or a limit that would be set anywhere in the law. Per your second source: “The bad news is that the main laws defining residency of France do not even mention the number of days spent in the country, so it is time to throw out the UK rule book” It does seem to play a role under the tax treaty with the UK, though. +1 for the second link, which seems very thorough. – Gala Mar 18 '14 at 5:59

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