All EU member states have a fixed format for their VAT numbers. In France, it includes 11 characters and the prefix FR. Letters can be included as first and/or second character (except letters O and I) - e.g., FR12345678901, FRX1234567890, FR1X234567890, or FRXX123456789.
The standard VAT rate in France is 20%, with reduced rates of 10%, 5,5%, and 2.1% on certain goods and services.
Since 01/10/2014, VAT returns e-filing (télédéclaration) is mandatory for all companies for VAT return and VAT refund. For the payment of VAT, e-payment [“télérèglement] is also compulsory for foreign companies as of 01/12/2015.
VAT returns have to be filed monthly unless the yearly amount of VAT due is less than EUR 4,000, in which case returns have to be filed quarterly.
In the case of the late filing of VAT returns and payments, the French government prescribed the penalties as follows:
Invoices must contain at least the following information:
France started introducing electronic invoice issuance and clearing via the tax authorities in January 2017. After four years, from 2020, all companies holding a public contract must transmit their invoices in electronic form to their public sector customers (state, local authorities, public establishments, etc.).
For this electronic invoicing model, France launched a special portal (Chorus Portail Pro), which enables companies to receive and send invoices to their public customers (i.e., government). Invoices can be submitted by entering data manually, by uploading PDF or XML, or through EDI or API connection.
Given the above, it’s easy to conclude that electronic invoicing and clearing via the tax authorities is mandatory only for B2G transactions, but considering rumors in the financial and tax industry, it is expected for this model to be replicated for B2B, and potentially B2C transactions from 2023. to 2025.
France introduced the Standard Audit File for Tax (SAF-T) on 1 January 2014.
SAF-T is an electronic schema developed for the efficient exchange of information between the tax authorities and businesses. It was created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2005 as a standard to be used globally to ensure consistency from country-to-country to facilitate the exchange of data between tax authorities. The file requirements are expressed using XML, although the EU does not specify the exact file format.
Over the past months, France has shown keen intentions to introduce Digital Service Tax. French authorities created a framework, but Italy overtook them due to some delays and became the first country that introduced a Digital Service Tax (DST).
Digital Service Tax (DST) will be payable at a rate of 3% on the gross revenues received by the companies in the digital sector, resulting from the provision in France during the calendar year. This sort of tax will be mandatory for all multi-national companies which provide one of the following services on the territory of France: a) Digital content, b) Communication services, or c) Payment services.
As described in the draft of DST regulations, this sort of tax will be payable by all taxable persons/businesses that, individually or group-wide have (a) a total worldwide revenue higher than EUR 750 million and (b) revenues obtained from the digital services in France higher than EUR 25 million during the calendar year must pay Digital Service Tax.
Unlike Italy who introduced Digital Service Tax, France is more cautious due to strong opposition from the home-countries of the world’s tech giants, such as the United States of America, who already announced countermeasures for France in case of adoption of Digital Service Tax. The last news from the financial industry says that the adoption of this sort of tax in France is postponed until all parties find a common interest in its adoption.
Date updated [May 12, 2021]
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