A British couple say they may be forced to sell their 15th century French holiday home after Emmanuel Macron announced a tax raid on second homeowners.
Creative director Simon Amster, 55, and his wife TV executive Asha, 48, bought the five-bed 15th century hideaway in the village of Sauveterre-de-Bearn near Biarritz for just 50,000 euros (£42,000) eight years ago.
The couple, who live in Lewes, East Sussex, currently pay 1,400 euros a month in residency taxes but face a minimum increase of 7.1 per cent after French president Macron gave local authorities the power to impose colossal tax increases.
It’s another post-Brexit slap in the face for Brits who have invested in property in France – after new travel restrictions limit visa-free stays in the EU to just 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Amsters, who have two children aged 11 and 13, say they are now considering selling the home to avoid paying thousands more each year in property taxes.
Simon and Asha Amster say they may have to give up their French property dream after Emmanuel Macron gave authorities the power to raise taxes on second homeowners
The Amsters’ five-bed bolthole in Sauveterre-de-Bearn, near Biarritz. They bought the home for £42,000 eight years ago, one village over from Asha’s mother
The charges introduced by French president Emmanuel Macron (above) have been introduced to discourage second home ownership
Regions such as Vauclause (home to Le Barroux, pictured above) are popular with Brits seeking European escapes as second homes
Mr Amster said: ‘Macron’s tax hikes have made us consider selling. All these additional costs mean our second home, which used to be a source of pleasure, is now a source of worry.
‘My wife’s mother lives in the neighbouring village so it is really useful for us to have the house so we can look after her if we need to.
‘There’s also a lot of uncertainty about how badly these taxes will affect us. We’re expecting quite a big jump, maybe around 20 per cent.
Who is affected?
86,000 British-owned households in France (and anyone in France who owns a second home).
Do I pay if I still keep a home in Britain?
Yes, the tax is applicable on all properties in France.
How does it work?
Second home owners face an annual charge even if they are not resident there but if their home is habitable. Last year this was about £664 for a house and £808 for a flat.
How will this change?
The tax will rise by a minimum of 7.1 per cent, but local authorities have been given the power to add a surcharge of up to 60 per cent.
What other property taxes are there?
An ownership tax covers things such as refuse collection, similar to council tax in the UK. New-build properties are exempt for the first two years.
Which areas will be affected?
All major regions, including areas that are popular with the British, such as Brittany, Dordogne and south of France.
‘It’s a first world problem, but it makes what used to feel like a relatively affordable holiday something which is now a serious financial concern.’
Under the new rules introduced by Mr Macron, tax on second homes could be increased by up to 60 per cent, even though British people are only allowed to visit for a maximum of half a year under the new post-Brexit rules on visa-free travel.
Despite this, the French now want to raise the financial burden on some 86,000 UK households. This will see the residence tax going up by between 7 per cent and 60 per cent.
It used to be paid only by those whose principal home was in France, but a reform introduced by president Macron’s government saw it extended to second homeowners.
‘The new tax will go up most in areas where local people have the most difficulty buying their own properties,’ a French government source told the Mail.
‘This includes many places that are popular with foreign second homeowners. Foreigners who choose to buy second homes in France should not be subsidised by taxes paid by French people.’
Last year, the residence tax was an average €775 (£664) for a house and €943 (£808) for a flat, but this will go up considerably.
There are already 156 councils in Brittany, which is hugely popular with Britons, which have been given authorisation to increase the residence tax by up to 60 per cent.
The surcharge is applicable in places where the housing market is under pressure and where locals struggle to buy or rent homes. It is designed to discourage second homes.
The surcharge was initially limited to 1,136 councils in big cities and tourist resorts, but has now been extended to a further 2,263 authorities in rural areas.
France’s second local tax, called the Property Tax, which applies to both main and second homes, is also going up by double digits. Paris council, for example, has voted for a 51.9 per cent increase, while the Alpine city of Grenoble is imposing a 25 per cent rise.
A survey of more than 700 second homeowners published this month by The Connexion newspaper found that almost two thirds of Britons had considered selling up because of the 90-day rule.