How to file your 2021 tax return in France
6 min read
It’s tax time! Just like last year, the tax filing season in France kicks off in April. But remember—despite withholding tax, it’s still compulsory to file your tax return in 2021. In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know in order to file your taxes in 2021, from automatic returns to the tax return deadline.
Withholding tax—does it apply to you?
Starting in January 2019, income tax has been deducted at sources—otherwise known as withholding tax. Simply put, this means that your income taxes are withheld right away when your salary is paid by your employer. For taxpayers, this saves to pay your taxes in one go when tax time comes.
However, you’ll still need to confirm or update your filing status with the tax office each year by filing your tax declaration. The good news is that this process has been made easier than ever with automatic tax returns.
What are automatic tax returns and who are they for?
Since 2020, nearly 12 million individuals and households have benefited from automatic tax returns—meaning that their tax returns have been pre-filled by the tax office using data from the previous year. The following types of returns will be automatically pre-filled in 2021:
- Returns for individuals or households that were taxed the previous year and whose circumstances are still the same. For these returns, tax authorities have retrieved the income information from third-party organizations.
- Returns for individuals or households who reported a birth, adoption, took over the care of a minor, or received alimony payments in 2020.
If you fall into either of these categories, you’ll receive an email informing you that your 2020 tax return has been pre-filled. Then, all you’ll need to do is log in to your account to verify that the information submitted is correct. Your return will then be approved automatically.
Who needs to file a tax return in 2021?
Tax returns for the year 2020 will need to be filled in by anyone who:
- Is over 18 years of age
- Resident in France in 2020
- No longer belongs to their parents’ tax householdRemember that your tax return must include the income of everyone within your tax household. This includes your spouse or civil partner, as well as any dependents. If you’re submitting your tax return for the first time, you’ll receive a letter in April with your tax number and access code so that you can log in to your account.
Feeling lost? The website impots.gouv.fr has everything you need to know about submitting your first tax return in 2021. If you haven’t received a letter with your tax number yet, you can request one here. Remember, if you’re a student, you can remain part of your parents’ or guardian’s tax household until you’re 25.
What to include in your income tax return
The following information should be included in your tax return:
- Salary income—this includes fringe benefits, professional expenses, severance payments, bonuses, etc.
- Income earned in addition to your salary—including operating losses or profits, non-commercial profits, and agricultural profits. For more information, visit https://www.economie.gouv.fr/entreprises/impot-sur-revenu-bic-bnc
- Pension income, social security payments, retirement income, and certain kinds of annuities—including life insurance payments, alimony, and disability payments
- Investment and real estate income—this includes income from savings, investments, capital gains from investments and real estate, etc.
- Unemployment benefits
You can calculate your estimated tax bill with this income tax simulator.
How to register a change of filing status
Here are the changes in tax status that you’ll need to declare to the tax office:
- You get married or enter a civil partnership
- You get divorced or terminate of civil partnership
- Your spouse or civil partner passes away
- You have a child
These changes will affect the composition of your tax household and, therefore, your tax status. That’s why it’s important to inform the tax authorities of any changes. You’ll also need to update the following:
- Your address if you’ve moved
- Your professional situation, including change or loss of job, retirement, etc.
- Any departure abroad
You can update your tax status here.
How to declare a bank account opened abroad
Have you opened, used, or closed a bank account abroad in the past year? If so, you’ll need to note this in your 2020 income tax return. If you’re an N26 customer, this applies to you too, as we’re officially located in Germany. Not sure where to start? Read our article here to find out how to declare your foriegn bank account on your French tax return. Please be aware that this requirement also applies to life insurance taken out abroad.
How to file your 2021 tax return
In this section, you’ll find all the information you need to file your tax return for your income earned in 2020.
What’s the deadline for tax returns in France?
Tax filing officially opened on April 8, 2021. The deadline for paper tax returns is May 20, 2021. For online tax returns, the deadline depends on the county, or département that you live in. Here’s a breakdown of the deadlines across zones:
- Zone 1 (départements 1 to 19 and non-residents): May 26, 2021
- Zone 2 (départements 2A to 54): June 1, 2021
- Zone 3 (départements 55 to 95, as well as overseas departments and territories): June 8, 2021
How to file your tax return online
Since 2019, it’s been mandatory in France to file your tax return online. However, for those without internet access and or without sufficient knowledge of the process online are allowed to submit a paper return.
To file your tax return online, you’ll need to do the following:
1. Log into your Account by entering your tax number and password
2. Click Complete my tax return
3. Check and update the pre-filled information
4. Sign your completed tax return
Have an automatic 2021 tax return? Here’s what you’ll need to check
If your tax return has been pre-filled, you’ll need to check the following:
- Your tax status
- Your address
- All pre-filled figures
If you need to make changes, you can edit your pre-filled tax return directly. Need to add other income, deductibles, tax credits, or reductions? You can do all this while checking your return, too. When you’ve submitted your online tax return, you’ll receive a confirmation email to let you know that it’s been received.
Voila! Now you have everything you need to know to complete your tax return in 2021. Please note that most financial aid paid as a result of the coronavirus crisis—such as solidarity funds, one-off bonuses, and remote working allowances—are tax exempt. Still, it’s a good idea to do a little more research depending on your situation if you’re feeling uncertain.
Whether it’s tax time or not, N26 is here to support you throughout the year, providing you with the tools you need to manage your ﬁnances more efficiently every day.
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