VAT Returns in France
Frequency of French VAT returns
As a general rule, VAT returns are filed monthly in France. Quarterly or annual VAT filing may be allowed in specific cases. Also, the following scenarios determine the application of normal or simplified regimes:
- Simplified regime (régime du réel simplifié): Companies with a turnover on supplies of accomodation and trading activity between €85,800 and €818,000, and on supplies of services and liberal professions between €34,400 and €247,000, and with a total output VAT in the preceding year below €15,000.
- Normal regime (régime du réel normal): Companies with a turnover above the €818,000 for accomodation and trading activity, and €247,000 for services, and whose VAT due the previous year did exceeded €15,000.
Check the official information here for more details about the different VAT regimes available in France. Usually, foreing companies will be subject to normal regime.
Annual filing is also possible for small enterprises, however, this scheme is rather exceptional for foreign businesses due to the large number of conditions and requirements.
The following reporting periods apply under the normal regime:
Frequency of filing
MonthlyStandard reporting period
The VAT due for the previous four quarters did not exceed €4,000
AnnualExceptionally allowed (change of regime).
Have a look to our article about how to calculate the EUR 4,000 threshold of VAT due for changing the frequency of filing.
French VAT Return Deadline
French VAT returns must be submitted and paid between the 15th and 24th day of the month following the reporting period. The exact date depends on the competent tax office, which depends on the location of the establishment or fiscal representative.
Foreign non-established businesses need to file VAT returns by the 19th day of the month following the reporting period. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the date is shifted to the next working day.
Established businesses or non-EU companies registered via fiscal representative will be allocated a due date depending on their legal form and the first letter of the business name.
Official information published by the authorities about due dates and VAT return obligations for established and non-established businesses can be found (in French) here.
Regarding bank holidays in France, the authorities publish the applicable due dates every year. The following link provides the 2021 due dates.
Finally, EU businesses only supplying rental services of immoveable property that have opted to tax the property will need to file their VAT returns by the 24th of the month following the reporting period. The same deadline applies also to businesses making imports in France following the mandatory import VAT reverse charge.
French VAT Return Payments
All VAT payments in France need to be made by direct debit. This system is called "telepaiements" and it's mandatory for all VAT registered businesses, including non-established companies in France. Only bank accounts opened in France or in one of the SEPA countries (except UK) are accepted.
To set up the direct debit, the taxpayer needs to create an account in the tax authorities' portal. Once the account has been created and activated, the bank account details should be added to the following section. In the last step, you should get a direct debit mandate and have it signed by the legal representative and sent to your bank.
Because payments are made via direct debit, there is no need to provide a reference, period or any other detail to the bank. The VAT payment will be instructed automatically by the system and linked to the submitted return.
Exceptionally, it is possible to make VAT payments to the French tax authorities via bank transfer.
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French VAT refunds
Where the total input VAT exceeds the total output VAT for a given VAT return period, the company is in a refund position and can carry forward the VAT credit to the next period or, if the conditions are met, request a refund from the French tax authorities.
VAT refunds can be requested on a monthly or quarterly basis when the total reimbursable amount exceeds €760. Refunds would be requested on an annual basis if the total reimbursable amount in the year exceeds €150. Otherwise, the VAT credit will be carried forward to the next period.
There is no special scheme for frequent exporters in France (abolished in 2014).
In France, the refund is requested by submitting an additional form. The form 3519 must be completed and submitted electronically. The bank certificate, VAT ledgers, invoice copies and authorization to sign this form on behalf of the company are no longer required to be submitted together with the first Form 3519.
Also, companies sending annual VAT returns under a simplified VAT regime must submit the additional form 3517, instead of form 3519.
It normally takes up to 6 months from the moment the request is submitted to receive the VAT refund. This period can be extended for 3 additional months by the tax authorities, in which case the taxpayer would be informed in writing before the six-month period expires. The authorities may always request additional information, particularly where it is the first refund requested or there is a significant deviation from the previous VAT position of the company.
Should the refund not be received within the expected period, the business can initiate an application called "Référé provision" which demands a faster refund through a domestic administrative court of justice. In most cases, however, it is sufficient with a regular follow up with the tax authorities.
Find official information about VAT refund in France under the following link.
French nil and corrective VAT returns
A nil VAT return needs to be submitted even if there are no transactions to be reported for that period.
A corrective VAT return is normally required when the VAT position changes. However, some conditions apply depending on the amounts corrected. The following scenarios can happen:
- Additional output VAT requires a corrective VAT return. In practice, the French tax authorities allow the correction to be made on the current return where the additional VAT amount does not exceed €4,000. In these cases, the additional invoices, including net and VAT amount as well as invoice date should be added in the correspondence box of the VAT return. If the additional output VAT exceeds €4,000, a corrective VAT return is always required.
- Excessive input VAT reported in the previous return: It can be corrected in the current period. The amount over-deducted must be entered in line 15 (TVA antérieurement déduite à reverser). A written explanation must be added in the Correspondence box.
- If input VAT needs to be added (e.g. invoices found that were not previously reported), these invoices are simply added in the period in which the invoices were found. No need to correct the previous return. In these cases, the additional input VAT is added in line 21 (Autre TVA a deduire) of the VAT return.
Corrective VAT returns are submitted electronically.
VAT penalties in France
If a VAT return is not filed, the French tax authorities will normally send a “friendly reminder” (relance amiable) after 2 weeks of the statutory deadline. If the return is not submitted after one or several reminders, the following penalties would normally apply:
Late filing10% of the VAT due if no reminder was sent or if the return is filed within 30 days after the first reminder was received. Interest applies on top of this (0.20% per month).
40% of the VAT due if the return is filed after the 30-day period is over.
80% of the VAT due if activity is discovered that wasn’t reported previously.
5% of the VAT due. This penalty should be added to the late filing penalties. Interest applies on top of this (0.20% per month).
Late registrationNormally, no penalties for late registration. Penalties are charged as part of the regularization of the VAT returns.
If an intra-Community acquisition or any other purchase under the reverse charge mechanism is missed, there is a penalty of 5% of the VAT amount. However, there is an administrative penalty that waives the penalty when the taxpayer has voluntarily corrected the error before any notice from the authorities.
Additional penalties may be charged by the authorities, particularly where the corrections are triggered by an investigation or VAT audit.
For penalties on Intrastat and other returns, please see the relevant section.
Marosa can help you submitting an appeal against French penalties received.
Appeals may be submitted where there are grounds to explain the delay on the payment of submission of VAT obligations in France. The French tax authorities will assess each appeal individually and provide an answer within 3 to 4 months.
French distance sales. VAT on e-commerce
You can find information about the general EU VAT regime on distance sales in our manual about VAT on e-commerce. You may also watch our webinar explaining VAT rules for e-commerce in the European Union.
French tax authorities contact
Like other EU countries, France has a tax office dedicated to EU non-established businesses. This office can be reached at the following contact details:
Direction des Résidents à l’Etranger et des Services Généraux (DRESG)
Service des Impôts des Entreprises
10 rue du Centre – TSA 20011
93465 NOISY LE GRAND Cedex
Tel: +33 1 57 33 85 00
Fax: +33 1 57 33 84 04
Established companies or non-EU businesses registered via a fiscal representative need to contact the tax office of the region where the establishment or the fiscal representative is located.
The local office contact and many other references can be accessed here.
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