Ilegal in France: Do I have to declare taxes?

What is the advice of lawyers and organizations in support of immigrants? Where to find the form? The importance of this statement in your demand of regularization. Receiving the tax notice..

Immigrants without a residence or work permit in France, many of whom are in the process of demanding for regularization, do not know that they can and even must declare their income to the fiscal institutions, and that they can be provided with an important official document: the Tax Notice.

And even less do they know that this non-declaration can bring to them, at the best, less services that they are entitled to by law. At worst, negative perception about their demand for regularization.

For, how can the prefecture be convinced that the immigrant is in order before the fiscal institutions if it does not have a certifying document? It is important that the income statement is made every year and that it is honest, regardless of the amount paid as tax. And this applies even if this amount is 0, as is the case for low-income filers.

Why is it important to declare income?

In France, the declaration of personal income is mandatory and is done once a year. Usually in May. It is a very important process and avoiding it, as in any other country, is not only perceived as avoiding civic duties towards society, but also it does not give you the right to benefit from social services. More seriously, as I explained earlier above, it may be perceived negatively by the prefecture when it examines your request for regularization or your demand to be equipped with French passport.

The fact remains that these important truths are not known by illegal immigrants. "The “sans-papiers”, - immigrants not having a regular residence permit- continue not to know that they can, and even should, declare their income. But this action is important for many reasons: symbolic, political and, at the same time, very concrete »1, - declares on its official website GISTI (Information and Support Group for Immigrants). This network of lawyers is, in my opinion, one of the most professional in France for free legal advice for immigrants. On their website you can find detailed articles and publications on this issue and many others, some of which are also in English. Unfortunately, there is nothing in Albanian.

GISTI is not the only professional group that constantly carries out awareness campaigns and strongly advises immigrants to declare their income in France. La CIMADE, as well, the emblematic non-governmental organization for the rights of immigrants in this country, declares the same on its website. In an article entitled "What to do while waiting for the regularization?" ”, it lists the annual income declaration as one of the most important reflexes 2 so to actively participate in the process of regularization, in addition to opening a bank account, maintaining the same address, saving and photocopying all documents, etc.

Indeed, according to these two organizations, the declaration of income is a clear recognition of the existence in France of illegal immigrants, of their important socio-economic role as well as a clear sign of their will to be included, like any other citizen, into the country where they have decided to build their lives. Another reason, equally important, if not more so: This act has a warranty value in the eyes of the French administration when your demand of regularization is studied. " should be known that, at the time of a regularization demand, the prefecture will examine the fiscal situation of the interested person, asking him to bring documents that prove that he has paid all taxes such as: statements of income, proof of tax payment, tax notice »3, - explains GISTI. So, when you file your demand for regularization at the prefecture, you must have on your file official proof that you have submitted your income declaration: the tax notice. This notice, of course, is sent to you only after you have made the relevant declaration. In French, this document is called "avis d'impôt".

GISTI: "The “sans-papiers”, - the immigrants not having a regular residence permit- continue not to know that they can, and even should, declare their income. But this action is important for many reasons: symbolic, political and, at the same time, very concrete ».

In addition to the political importance of proving the role of immigrants in French society as well as the importance before the prefecture when you ask for regularization, declaring your income and providing yourself with an «avis d'impôt» is also something profoundly practical. “More precisely, the declaration of income leads to the issuance of an "avis d'impôt", a document required by many administrative offices, and which is the gateway to many rights and social assistance (starting from medical assistance, legal assistance and many others »3, - adds GISTI.

How can you declare to Taxes?

Why do immigrants who live and work without documents in France not know that they can and should declare their income? And that, as a result, they can be provided with the important document "avis d'impôt"? The explanation is simple: this opinion arises and is reinforced by the fact that they live or work without documents and because employers usually do not declare them to the relevant institutions. Under these conditions, considering that they are not equipped with documents and do work "in the black", they think that they cannot or should not declare their income. As a result, they cannot be provided with the relevant tax notice. But, legally, in France, these two processes do not depend on each other. According to GISTI, "being taxable in France and having the corresponding tax certificate is not subject at any time to the condition of legal residence nor to the prior issuance of a work permit, since it is possible to declare the income of an undeclared professional activity »3. But let's get simpler and more practical: what work can you declare and how to declare income when you don't have an employment contract, when you work "in the black"? How much to declare when you don't have a supporting document since the employer doesn't give you pay slips and pays your salary in hand and not in the bank?

According to GISTI, the fact that the immigrant, “of his own volition”, is declaring the income generated by undeclared employment, testifies to some kind of correction, on his part, of the situation, even in the absence of a work contract or declaration on the part of the employer. "It is important to understand that the taxes are declared by the contributor himself (in this case, by the immigrant - author's note), who benefits from the correction of the accuracy; the declaration can therefore be made even in the absence of payment bills or in the absence of any kind of declaration from the employer »3.

So, in short, despite the lack of these documents, you can and should make the income declaration yourself, without the need to attach salary slips or employment contracts. Thus, proving that, personally, you are not hiding from the fiscal authorities and obligations relevant. Automatically, you pave the way for your declaration to be registered by the relevant institutions. You pave the way as well to be provided with the famous "avis d'impôt" because the administration cannot oppose the registration of your declaration.

"Since the condition of having documents (residence and work permit in France - author's note) is not provided by the General Tax Code (CGI) and by any other text, the fiscal administration cannot oppose the registration of a statement due to illegality of stay or due to lack of work permit", - reinforces GISTI.3.

Bref, malgré l’absence de ces documents, vous pouvez et devez faire vous-même la déclaration de revenus, sans qu’il soit nécessaire de joindre les bulletins de salaire ou les contrats de travail, prouvant ainsi que, personnellement, vous ne vous cachez pas des autorités fiscales et des obligations pertinentes. Cela implique que votre déclaration soit enregistrée par les institutions compétentes et de recevoir l’avis d’imposition car l’administration ne peut pas s’opposer à l’enregistrement de votre déclaration. « Dans la mesure où ces conditions de régularité ne sont pas prévues par le code général des impôts (CGI) ni par aucun autre texte, l’administration fiscale ne peut refuser d’enregistrer une déclaration pour des raisons d’irrégularité de séjour ou de l’absence d’une autorisation de travailler »3 – renforce GISTI.

However, keep in mind that not all immigrants can declare income in France. One of the reasons? First, the declaration is made for the previous year's income. So, if in 2022, you did not live in France for more than 6 months or if you worked most of the time in another country (for example, you arrived in August 2022), you cannot and do not have to declare income in 2023. In addition, there are some types of income that cannot/must be declared in France. For a fairly comprehensive clarification on this issue, I invite you to read this publication of GISTI3, accompanied by the 2022 update4, where you will find many valuable tips regarding the first or next tax declaration, the relevant form, the correct address where the declaration should be sent, how to fill out this declaration, how to make the declaration online, etc.

And here you can find, download and print the form to declare income5. Note that, for the first time, the declaration is made on paper and not online.

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Références :

1 GISTI (le dernier ajout juillet 2022). Sans-papiers et impôts : pourquoi et comment déclarer ses revenus


3GISTI (le dernier ajout, juillet 2022). Sans-papiers et impôts : pourquoi et comment déclarer ses revenus

4 GISTI (ADDENDUM de mai 2022) à l’édition 2015 de la note pratique « Sans-papiers et impôts : pourquoi et comment déclarer ses revenus »


“This article is produced as part of the "Migration, youth and internet - 2" project, with the support of funds from the French Development Agency (AFD), Grand Est Solidarités et Coopérations pour le Développement (GESCOD) and with the support of the AMI-PLUS association.

The sources of the information are quoted, and when a personal opinion is given, it engages only the author.

The content of the articles does not engage the previously named structures".

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