Corporate - Tax credits and incentives

Last reviewed - 08 March 2023

Foreign tax credit

Under DTTs signed by France, several methods have been established to avoid double taxation. The main one is the traditional deduction of a tax credit from tax effectively paid. However, some treaties establish a tax exemption or the exclusive right to tax. Also, a tax-sparing clause is included in some treaties, which allows for the deduction of not only the tax actually paid but a higher amount of tax.

Decrease of payroll charges paid by employers (former tax credit to boost competitiveness and employment [CICE])

For wages paid on or after 1 January 2019, the CICE tax credit is repealed and replaced by a permanent decrease in payroll charges paid by employers to finance the French social security system.

R&D tax credit

The R&D tax credit is determined on the basis of the eligible R&D expenses incurred during the calendar year.

Currently, the R&D credit equals 30% of the R&D eligible expenses incurred during the year, up to EUR 100 million in eligible R&D expenses, and 5% beyond this amount.

The FTC classifies eligible technical and scientific research operations in three areas: fundamental research, applied research, and experimental development.

The eligible expenditures mainly include the following:

  • Tax deductible depreciation expenses relating to fixed assets, created or acquired newly, assigned to eligible R&D works/projects, including patents acquired.
  • Costs relating to staff qualifying as scientists and/or engineers (staff costs relating to ‘young graduate doctors’ are retained at up to 200% during the 24 months following their hiring by the company).
  • Expenses resulting from outsourced R&D works/projects under restrictive conditions.
  • Expenses incurred for patent registration and/or in connection with the defence of patents.
  • Expenses relating to the monitoring of technical developments.
  • Premiums paid in connection with insurance contracts relating to the legal defence of patents.

Salaries for research staff are fully taken into account. Operating costs are taken into account by retaining 43% of the R&D staff costs plus 75% of the depreciation on the assets allocated to the research.

Research expenditure sub-contracted to public research bodies, private research organisations approved by the minister with responsibility for research, or scientific/technical experts who have been approved under the same conditions are fully taken into account. The expenditure incurred must be for the purpose of carrying out genuine, clearly specified R&D projects. If the company and the research body are unrelated, expenditure sub-contracted to public research bodies shall count for double of their amount.

Also, spending on outsourcing to private research organisations is included in the limit of three times the total amount of other research expenses qualifying for the tax credit.

The total amount of expenditure sub-contracted is capped at EUR 10 million in cases where sub-contractors are unrelated and to EUR 2 million in the contrary case.

The 2021 Finance Bill provides that:

  • the R&D expenditures sub-contracted by a company to public research bodies shall not count for double of their amount, and
  • the increase of EUR 2 million applicable on expenditure sub-contracted to public research bodies shall be removed.

These measures may apply to R&D expenditures incurred as of 1 January 2022.

The tax credit can be offset against the CIT liability payable by the taxpayer with respect to the calendar year during which the wages are paid. Any excess credit can be carried forward and offset against the tax liability of the taxpayer during the next three years.

Credits unused after three years will be refunded to the taxpayer. The 'receivable' (unused credits) can be transferred or sold only to credit institutions. Finally, special provisions apply in the case of mergers and assimilated restructuring operations.

Tax reduction on charitable donations 

For charitable donations made over a financial year ending as of 31 December 2020, the tax reduction amounts to 60% of the amount of the payments. The fraction of the payments exceeding EUR 2 million is entitled to a tax reduction at a rate of 40%. For the calculation of the reduction, the amount of the payments is taken into account within the limit of EUR 20,000 or 5 per thousand of turnover, whichever is higher.

The tax reduction on charitable donation can be offset against the CIT liability payable by the taxpayer with respect to the financial year during which the donations were granted. Any excess reduction can be offset against the tax liability of the taxpayer during the next five financial years.

Inbound investment incentives

No particular incentives are available to foreign investors in France. However, the government offers a comprehensive programme of tax incentives and development subsidies to encourage investment in underdeveloped areas.

Capital investment is encouraged through the declining-balance method of depreciation as well as through exceptional depreciation for certain capital expenditures.