Do be patient.

French tax audit procedures can last a very long time, even years if they go to Court.

Do acknowledge and reply to all correspondence from the French tax authorities.

Especially at the beginning of the tax procedure, the French tax authorities are notably looking to understand the taxpayer’s situation and activity. It is therefore very important to be available to attend or be represented at any meetings, so as to be able to instil a full and frank dialogue with the French tax authorities. It is at the beginning of the tax audit procedure that there is the most opportunity to enable the French tax inspector to obtain a good grasp and understanding of the taxpayer’s situation and activity.

Do be timely with any replies to correspondence from the French tax authorities.

Generally there is a deadline of 30, or in some cases 60, days from receipt of correspondence in order to reply. If such a deadline is missed even by a single day, then the reply is ignored and the opportunity to get across the taxpayer’s point of view would have been missed, the procedure moves forward a stage and the taxpayer’s position becomes more difficult.

Do not underestimate the importance of any letter from the French tax authorities.

The earlier that the taxpayer gets on board and dialogues with the French tax inspector the better. Ignoring letters and refusing to cooperate can, and very often does, lead to automatic taxation on the basis of the sole meagre information held by the French tax authorities, in addition to the application of fines which can amount up to 100% of the tax assessed amounts. Moreover ignoring the tax authorities runs the risk of foregoing procedural options which later on can be very useful. Finally, in extreme cases, opposition to tax audit in France can lead to criminal proceedings.

Do use French.

Even though English might be understood by some French tax inspectors, it is not a rule and they are by no means required to recognise any language other than French. Therefore, it is imperative that all communication be done in French either by the taxpayer or by somebody trustworthy to translate into French.

Don’t have misgivings over the attitude of the French tax authorities.

Their objective is indeed to check that any tax that should have been paid has been done so correctly, however French tax inspectors are human beings like the rest of us who like to be able to deal with a file in a proper and efficient manner. If there is bad blood in the relationship then the attitude of the French tax inspector can only get worse. It is understandable that having questions asked of one’s situation and activity can be very unsettling; however there are procedural checks and balances in place to protect the taxpayer.

Do not confuse tax audits with customs audits.

If the French tax authorities have important coercive enforcement powers, the French customs authorities’ enforcement powers are much h4er. Should you become subject of a customs audit or inspection it is h4ly advisable to obtain expert advice at the first opportunity.

Do get expert advice.

Tax audit procedures are very technical and therefore it is highly advisable to be assisted by an expert who can take you through the procedure and help to avoid any pitfalls. Triplet & Associés have bilingual experts who as Avocats can assist at every step of the procedure, even before the Courts, providing expert advice in English and in a manner understandable to those of a non-French culture.

For further information on tax audits please click here.