It’s easy to get carried away with settling into your new life in France but don’t neglect your finances. Here are 4 things to do when you arrive in France
1. Make yourself known to the French tax authorities
Once you arrive in France with an intention to reside there indefinitely, you become a tax resident the day after your arrival. It is your responsibility to fully declare your worldwide income, capital gains and wealth. The taxes are administered by more than 120,000 tax agents as part of France’s Ministry of Finance (the Ministre de l’Économie et des Finances). You should ascertain the whereabouts of the local tax office (centre des finances publiques) in order to file your tax return. Bear in mind that the French tax year runs from 1 January to 31 December, and that tax returns should be made by 31 May of the following year.
2. Take advice from an expert
Take advice from an experienced accountant (expert comptable) or an experienced tax adviser (conseiller fiscal) when dealing with French tax matters which can be complicated. Choose one preferably who is both familiar with expatriate issues and with your local tax office.
3. Locate your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office
If you have Form S1, you will need to submit the paperwork in order to have access to French state health care. The French system, known as the CMU (Couverture Maladie Universelle), does not cover the full cost of French health care, and so it is advisable to take out top-up insurance so that you do not have to pay any shortfall yourself. Top-up insurance policies cannot be purchased until you are registered with the CMU. If you do not have access to the CMU, then you should arrange for private medical insurance.
4. Explore opening a French bank account
If you have investment capital it is highly recommend that you seek professional advice in order to establish the most tax efficient investment structures for French residents – otherwise you will probably pay much more tax than you need to. Be aware that the French tax rules change constantly, so whether your language skills are razor sharp or not, it’s best to take advice and make sure that you have the most up-to-date information and make the best decision for your own circumstances.