Making your French property eco-friendly

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Making your French property eco-friendly

The basics

There are a number of grants, loans and tax relief on eco-friendly improvments to an existing property in France in adition to a lower VAT rate of 5.5% on materials and services relating to restoration and home improvement - the standard VAT rate in France is 19.6%.

First up is 'crédit d'impôt développement durable' - tax credits towards improvements that help conserve energy. In principle it allows you to claim credits towards the cost of your materials, provided you use an approved artisan or company and the works meet the meet the performance standards set-out in the regulations.

The rebate forms part of France's energy bill which has set extremely ambitious targets in energy saving and the promotion or renewable energies. The country's aim is to reduce their ratio of energy consumption by 2% each year up until 2015, then 2,5% til 2030.

In theory, a family who install all of the approved materials could save thousands of pounds, but there are some rules and regulations about who is eligible and how the tax credit works.

In most cases you can claim for the cost of the materials for making eco-friendly improvements to your home, provided your improvments are purchased from and installed by a registered artisan or company and meet the performance standards set-out in the regulations - do make sure you check this with your installer before going ahead.

Some of the eco-friendly home improvements that you can claim for;

  • Heating equipment, low temperature boilers and other such stsems that reduce energy consumption
  • Insulation
  • Thermostatic control systems
  • Double glazing
  • Installation of a condensing boiler
  • Solar or wind-powered heating system
  • Rainwater harvesting system
  • Apparatus that uses renewable energies such as solar panelling

In addition if you are improving the insulation in your roof or walls, or laying pipework for geothermal heating pumps you may also claim for up to 22% of the labour cost in addition to the cost of the materials, provided you use a registered builder.

What's the catch?

  • You must be a French resident
  • It only applies to your main home, so won't apply if your French property is a second home, unless you have a long-term tenant (of more than five years) and it is their main home
  • If you don't earn enough to pay tax then instead of a tax rebate you are just given a refund for the same amount
  • Moneys are paid back to the resident the following tax year
  • Tax rebates are based on materials bought not the cost of labour
  • Tax will only be given back up to the sum of €8,000 spent on materials for one person. This goes up to €16,000 for a couple with an additional €400 allowance per person for any other additional person in the household

To make your claim, simply include the builders invoice when filing your tax return. It can take up to one year to receive your tax credit after filing your return.

If you aren't eligible for tax credits and your property was built before 1st January 1990, another option available to you is an interest-free loan to carry out eco-friendly improvements to your property. The maximum value of the loan depends on what you are planning to have done and requires a thermal survey to be done in advance.

In addition to these national programmes, there are a number of local or regional schemes which differ depending on the area in which your property is situated. Often you can't apply for both a national and local scheme, so check with your local, departmental and regional councils before deciding which option works best for you.

To see if you are eligible and to see exactly how much you claim back visit :


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