Filing your tax return in France as student

Are you a student filled with dread at the thought of filing your tax return? If so, don’t panic—our guide will tell you everything you need to know to file your tax return easily.
5 min read

Do you have to submit a tax return when you’re a student?

Heading to college marks your entry into adulthood, and comes with its share of responsibilities—especially when it comes to your very first student tax return! As a student over the age of 18, you’ll need to complete your tax return—even if you have no income. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying taxes, as some or all of your income may be exempt due to tax thresholds. Not sure if you should be filing your tax return as a student? Check our detailed list of taxable and non-taxable income below!

Taxable income for students

As a student, you’ll need to declare the following types of income:
  • If you’re under 25 on January 1 of the tax year in question, you’ll need to declare your income if it totals over €4,618—including income from summer jobs and student jobs. Note that this figure is applicable for the 2020 tax year. This means that if you earned less than €4,618 in total, you don’t have to declare anything.
  • If you’re over 26, you’ll need to report all your income.
  • Internship grants that exceed the annual minimum wage should also be declared. If you’ve received less than €18,473 for your internship in 2020, you don’t have to declare anything.
  • Study grants awarded for specific research projects need to be declared
  • Financial support paid by the government to students in administration, the military or ESPEs (École Supérieure for Teaching and Education) is also subject to tax.
  • Your external or internal income for medical studies needs to be declared
  • Lastly, declare any non-salaried income, such as business operating loss or profit, non-commercial profits, etc. This means that if you’re a student who is self-employed, you’ll need to declare the income you make from your micro enterprise.

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Non-taxable income

As a student, you won’t be taxed on the following:
  • Income from your salary when it amounts to less than €4,618 (for the tax year 2020),  provided you’re under 26
  • Your internship grant, if it was less than €18,473 in 2020
  • Grants awarded based on social criteria
  • Housing support
  • Expenses paid as part of voluntary work, including VIE (international internship in a company), VIA (international internship with an administration), VIS national youth service (add link), association-based voluntary work, etc.

Filing your tax return while taking part in a work-study program

Are you on a work-study program and not sure if you should be declaring your income? The answer depends on the type of contract you have. There are two different types of contracts for work-study programs:
  • Apprenticeship contracts
  • Professional training contracts
For apprenticeship contracts, you’ll only have to declare income that exceeds €18,473 for the tax year 2020. This amount is equivalent to the gross annual minimum wage (SMIC). This means that it can change each year, depending on how much the minimum wage rises. For professional training contracts, however, you’ll have to declare your whole salary.

How to file your tax return as a student

As a student, there are several different types of filing statuses to choose from, depending on your age: 
  • If you’re over 25 on January 1 of the tax year in question, you must file your taxes individually.
  • If you’re 18-25 years old, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to file your taxes individually, or be attached to your parents’ tax household.
  • If you’re under 18, you’re automatically attached to your parents’ tax household.

Filing your tax return yourself

If you’re under 25 on January 1 of the tax year, you’re probably wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to file your tax return individually. This all depends on your financial situation. It’s generally recommended to file on your own if you’re a student covering your own expenses, as you’ll be able to get the tax exemptions mentioned above. In addition, you may also be able to receive the activity bonus, which is not the case if you’re attached to your parents’ tax household. 

Filing your tax return when you’re attached to a tax household

A “tax household” includes all the people who are all included on the same tax return. This could be a single taxpayer, a couple, or a couple and their children. The more people there are within the tax household, the lower the taxation for the same level of declared income.If you’re still dependent on your parents, it could help them if you stay attached to their tax household. This allows them to reduce their taxes, including their property taxes. Under certain conditions, they can also continue to receive certain social welfare benefits. But be careful here—when your parents declare you on their return, they won’t be able to deduct any expenses they incur on your behalf, and will also have to include any income you receive during the year in their return.If you want to remain attached to your parents’ tax household, you’ll need to write a letter requesting this and give it to your parents along with proof of your student status, such as a student card or certificate of school attendance.Finally, to make life easier, you can now complete your tax return online.

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