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 the following scenarios:
- Companies with a turnover on supplies of goods between €82,000 and €783,000 or on supplies of services between €32,900 and €236,000 and with a total output VAT in the preceding year below €15,000
- Companies with a turnover above the €783,000 for goods and €236,000 for services but whose VAT due the previous year did not exceed €4,000
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.
Frequency of filing
MonthlyStandard reporting period
Turnover on supplies of goods between €82,000 and €783,000 or on supplies of services between €32,900 and €236,000 and with a total output VAT in the preceding year below €15,000.
Turnover above the €783,000 for goods and €236,000 for services but whose VAT due the previous year did not exceed €4,000
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 public holidays in a given year in France.
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.
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 are accepted.
To set up the direct debit, the taxpayer needs to create an account in the tax authority’s 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.
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.
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."
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
The following penalties apply in France when missing your VAT obligations:
Late filing10% of the VAT due or a fixed penalty of €150 if there was no VAT due
5% of the VAT due or a fixed penalty of €150 if there was no VAT due. This penalty should be added to the late filing penalties.
These penalties are increased to 40% of the VAT due when the error is found by the tax authorities.
The applicable late payment interest in the relevant year is charged (usually from 0.40%).
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 10% of the VAT amount on this intra-Community acquisition. 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 DEB/Intrastat and other returns, please see the relevant section.
French distance sales. VAT on e-commerce
You can find more information about the EU wide VAT regime on distance sales in our website on VAT News.
These are some of the rules applicable in France regarding this regime:
- The distance sales threshold is 35,000 €. Where the total amounts of sales to French customers in any 12 month period exceeds this threshold, a registration is required
- Foreign companies may opt to register in France before the threshold is exceeded. The application is submitted in writing and is applicable from the month this request is submitted. Once a business has opted to register, this registration remains active for two more years
- French companies may opt to register abroad if the threshold in the customer country is not exceeded. The French authorities need to be informed in writing and the option remains applicable for the following two years
- DEB/Intrastat returns are due when the intrastat threshold is exceeded. The regime 29 should be used in the DEB/Intrastat return for outgoing sales from France to customers in another EU country and Regime 19 should be used for incoming sales to French customers
- French VAT returns must report in intra-Community acquisition (in the specific box for distance sales) and a domestic sale.
- If goods are returned by the client, an intra-Community supply is not reported in France
- A valid invoice must be issued for each sale to a private individual. Simplified invoices are not accepted
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.