Emmanuel Macron has reportedly hit Brits owning second homes in France with up to a 60 per cent increase in council tax.
British property owners in European Union countries have already been hit by post-Brexit restrictions on how long they can stay without a visa.
But the latest move by the French government has been described as a “double whammy” by those affected, with some of the 86,000 British households that own second homes in the country calling the higher rates “irritating”.
According The timesPensioners – who once spent several months of the year in French holiday homes – are particularly irritated by the EU’s residence restriction, which says Britons can only stay 90 days in a 180-day period.
Now they say the latest intervention means they will be forced to pay more residence taxes for houses they can’t even live in for half the year.
Emmanuel Macron has hit Britons owning second homes in France with an increase of up to 60 percent in council taxes, according to reports.
The Times reports that the minimum increase in the residence tax (one of the two main property taxes in France, similar to the UK council tax) will be 7.1 percent.
However, with 3,399 councils having received permission to apply a surcharge, this figure could be much higher, rising as high as 60 percent for some.
Many of the tips listed are in regions popular with Brits owning holiday homes in France, such as Brittany, according to The Times.
Before the change, all homeowners in France paid residence tax, and last year it averaged 772 euros (£660) for a house and 941 euros (£800) for a flat.
But under Macron’s reform, they will now only be imposed on those who own two houses in an attempt to discourage people from using properties as second homes in areas where locals have a hard time renting and buying.
Steven Jolly, a World War I battlefield guide who owns a second home in Normandy, complained to the Times about the increase.
He said it was particularly painful in light of restrictions on how long Britons can now stay in France and other EU or Schengen countries.
“If you’re paying more taxes on a property and you’re not allowed to go there whenever you want, that’s an insult to harm,” he told the publication.
Taking last year’s average national residence tax of €772 for houses and €941 for flats, then a 60 per cent increase would mean second-home owners would pay more than €1,200 and €1,500 for their houses and flats, respectively.
Of course, this would be even higher in areas with a higher than average residence tax.
Initially, the surcharge was limited to 1,136 French municipalities, mainly in large cities and tourist centers. But now it has been expanded to 2,263 rural authorities.
In Brittany, 156 councils have received permission to increase the residence tax by up to 60 percent. About 12 percent of properties in the region are second homes.
With Brits owning around 8,900 homes in the region, many will be affected by the tax increase.
Things could also get even worse for UK owners of French homes.
The Times reports that the country’s local tax, called the property tax, which applies to both primary and second residences, will also increase.
Under Macron’s reform, the residence tax will now only be imposed on those who own two homes in an attempt to discourage people from using properties as second homes in areas where locals find it difficult to rent and buy.
In Paris, for example, the city council has decided on an increase of 51.9 percent.
And it’s not just the British who are angry and frustrated by the tax increases.
There have been a number of legal challenges against the changes, which some owners have called excessive, presenting another challenge for Macron.
The property tax increase is intended to cover inflation (which in France rose as high as 5.2 percent last year, according to local reports). However, second home owners will note that a potential 60 percent increase far exceeds this figure.