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Discussion Starter #1
Do some of you own a car in France (maybe because you own a holiday home) but never file a tax return here?

I'm stuck in France for a few months because of covid (my dad retired here) and need a car. In order to buy a car, for the "carte grise" you need to show that your main residence is in France. My dad can get me the "attestation" showing that my residence is here, allowing me to register the car.

My worry is that once your residence is in France you might become a resident for tax purposes and have to file a return. Even though I won't spend 183 days in France in 2020, I worry that just because I registered a car, the tax office will come after me asking that I file a return. Having to argue that I actually wasn't a resident here is a hassle I really want to avoid.

Does anyone have any knowledge about this — does the mere fact of registering in a car trigger something with the tax office?

If so, I'll try to convince my dad to register the car in his name and deal with the insurance.

Thanks in advance for your insights. :)
 

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It would probably be easiest to have it in yoru dads name with you as a named driver but I don't think that it would trigger any tax issues. I've known friends from the UK keeping a French reg car here at their holiday houses and them not living, nor being tax resident.
 

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There are three fairly basic criteria for being considered tax resident here in France. Basically if you have your "main residence" here - i.e. your center of interests or you are engaged in a job or business.

Putting the car in your father's name might be the safest way to go, but it should be enough for you to be maintaining a "main residence" elsewhere (which is how the owners of holiday homes do things). That involves having a main residence outside France where you keep most of your personal belongings, pay your taxes and have the intention of returning to once the travel restrictions have lifted.
 

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...My worry is that once your residence is in France you might become a resident for tax purposes and have to file a return. Even though I won't spend 183 days in France in 2020, I worry that just because I registered a car, the tax office will come after me asking that I file a return. ...
I would like to expand the responses to the part of your original question about tax residency.

Purchasing a car, or even a home for that matter, will not per se make you a French tax resident. French law provides the following standards for determining tax residence...
Unless international tax treaties state otherwise, you are considered to be a resident of France for tax purposes if you fulfill at least one of the following criteria :
  • Your household (including your spouse, civil partner and/or children) remains in France. This may be the case if you are living temporarily or for most of the year in another country for professional reasons. If you are single without dependants, then your tax residence is defined as where you live most of the time.
or
  • You have a professional activity in France, as an employee or otherwise, unless this activity is secondary.
or
  • The centre of your economic interests is in France. In other words, France is the location of your main investments, your place of business, the location of your professional activities, or the source of the majority of your income.
For the full discussion in French and English, see this French government web site.

Note there is no mention of the so-called 183 day rule. While commonly cited, that rule is really just a commonly applied quideline to help decide tax residency in cases where multiple possabilities may exist equally.

So, in your case since none of the three tests would apply to you, you would not risk becoming a French taxresident simply by purchasing a car.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
EDIT: @berkinet we posted at the same time, so this post does not include what you just wrote, for which I'm grateful.

Thank you for your insights, I really appreciate them.
I do have my main residence outside of France, it's just a matter of avoiding hassles with the French administration.

If I understand your replies,
- having it in my name should be okay, as you know people who reside outside of France and own a car here but haven't been bothered by the tax authorities
- but you never know, and the safest way to go would be to keep the car in my dad's name.

If I missed something, please let me know.
Wishing you's a great end of the week.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Popped in to the Centre des Impôts.
They confirmed what you all have been saying, i.e., that I can freely register a car in France without fearing a letter from the taxman.

Thank you all again very much for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Question solved.
 
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