Taxe-free year in France? Shift to withholding could bring rare tax shift in 2017 for workers

PARIS – France is considering making 2017 a year free of income tax.

The government wants to shift to a system of automatic withholding, similar to that in the United States and much of the rest of the world. Employees in France currently pay taxes a year after their income is earned.

Christian Eckert, France’s budget secretary, said Wednesday that the government will not double-tax workers in 2018, the year automatic withholding is to begin. So 2017 incomes could effectively be tax-free for regular salaries.

Taxpayers won’t actually feel much of a difference though — they would still spend 2017 paying for the previous year.

The U.S. began withholding taxes in 1943. Canada and Germany did so even earlier, in 1917 and 1925 respectively.