The French social security system is complex and includes a wide range of employee benefit schemes that include basic social security coverage, unemployment benefits, compulsory complementary retirement plans, complementary death and disability coverage, and complementary health coverage.
Employers and employees share contributions to the social security system. The employer's contributions depend on the business type, size and location, but on average, they are 40% of the employee's gross salary. The employer withholds the employer's and employee's share of French social security charges.
The monthly social security ceiling value in 2020 is €3,428 and the daily value is €189, for a total annual ceiling at €41,136. The unemployment and health contributions are gradually being eliminated, while the CSG contributions are being increased to compensate for their elimination.
Social security contribution breakdown
|Benefit||% of employee's gross salary|
|Health, maternity, invalidity, death insurance*||13%|
|Old age insurance**||8.55%|
|Family allowances||3.45% or 5.25%|
|Autonomy Solidarity Contribution (CSA)||0.3%|
|AGS (Wage Guarentee Insurance)**||0.15%|
|Social dialogue contribution||0.016%|
|Fnal||0.5% if more than 50 employees; 0.1% if less|
On top of the social security contribution “health, maternity, invalidity, death insurance”, employers must make additional contribution to a private health insurance (mutuelle) for all employees. The cost of the insurance varies depending on the benefits and the insurance provider. The Company is required to pay for at least half of the cost.
Besides the government-mandated old-age insurance that both employers and employees contribute to, companies must also provide employees with a supplementary pension. Contributions are 1.9% of gross salary for pension insurance without a monthly ceiling.
Provident insurance (prévoyance) is a widespread life insurance in France, which covers people for accidents that may result in injury or death. Companies are required to extend provident insurance to all managers. If a manager passes away and the company hadn't provided the insurance, they have to pay out the family three times the annual Social Security ceiling.
Depending on the industry and the applicable CBA branch, implementing the Provident insurance for all employee categories may be mandatory.
Work accident insurance
The rate varies according to industry, risk and company size. Employers need to make contributions based on the total assessed cost of employee insurance, which considers the evaluated degree of risk. The French Pension and Occupational Health Insurance Fund notifies employers of their rates annually, which averages at 2.22% for office-based workers and 1.90% for employees working from home.
Social package (Forfait Social)
- Forfait Social is a tax contribution that employers pay for certain remunerations they provide. Those remunerations are not subject to social security tax but are subject to CSG. The social package rate is 20% (in certain cases, rates of 8%, 10% or 16% may apply instead). The following remuneration is subject to the 20% rate:
- Incentive or participation bonuses – unless the company has fewer than 50 employees
- Employer contributions to company savings plans (PEE), inter-company savings plans (PEI) or collective retirement savings plans (Perco) – at a reduced rate of 16% under certain conditions
- Employer contributions for supplementary retirement and supplementary provident insurance (only on the part excluded from social security contributions)
- Supplementary pension scheme payments by the employer
- Indemnities paid out in the case of mutually agreed termination (see more here)
- The attendance fee remuneration received by directors and members of public limited companies' (SA) and independent companies' (SEL) supervisory boards for exercising their mandate.
- Exceptional compensation allocated by the board of directors or by the supervisory board for the missions and mandates entrusted to directors
The following remunerations do not require a social package tax contribution from employers:
- Stock options or free shares
- Compensation paid within the framework of the termination of an employment contract: dismissal, job protection plan, voluntary departure within the framework of an agreement for the interim management of jobs and skills (GPEC), retirement, forced termination of the functions of corporate officers and managers.
- Holiday vouchers (in companies with less than 50 employees), restaurant vouchers and pre-financed universal service employment vouchers (CESU)
- Attendance fees paid to directors who act as the chairman of the board of directors, general managers or deputy general managers (these are already subject to social security contributions and contributions like salaries)
- Employer contributions for supplementary provident insurance paid for employees, former employees and their beneficiaries in companies with fewer than 11 employees (compared to 10 employees until December 31, 2015)
- Participation bonuses for companies not required to set up a participation agreement (companies with less than 50 employees)
- Profit-sharing schemes in companies employing between 50 and 249 employees
Companies in certain industries must pay an additional tax of 0.68% and contribute 0.55% (if employing less than 11 people) or 1% (if employing 11+) to the training tax.
This tax is applicable for companies with 11 or more employees based in the Île-de-France region (Paris and its surroundings) or within the scope of a transport organising authority (AOT) where mobility payments are subject to a contribution. This contribution finances public transport and is capped at 2.95% in Paris. The collection of this contribution depends on company size and location.
All private companies who employ workers must declare the number of disabled workers within the company. The workforce of companies with 20+ employees should be comprised of at least 6% employees with disabilities. There is a broad definition of a disability which covers any degradation of at least one physical, sensory, mental or psychic function that diminishes the possibility of obtaining or keeping a job. A company not fulfilling this employment obligation must pay a financial contribution to Agefiph equal to €4,060 per missing employee. Calculator to simulate the contribution.
Companies that do not respect the declaration deadline risk penalties of up to €15,225, increased by 25% per missing employee.
French residents pay tax on their worldwide income, while non-residents do so only on their income earned in France. To be considered a French resident, an individual's home must be in France; their principal place of abode must be France; they should carry on the professional activity in France, or France must be the centre of economic interests.
Personal income tax is assessed using the household's total income – it is not calculated per individual. The calculation is adjusted to personal circumstances through an income splitting system and by applying tax credits for some personal expenses. Income splitting allows for dependents to be taken into account. It also allows for cushioning progressive taxation effects by applying the progressive rate to only the taxable income part.
Income that is subject to income tax:
- Annuities (reduced taxes)
- Employment compensation and payments, including the remuneration of senior managers of joint-stock corporations and managers of limited liability companies
- French and European Parliament members
- At the beneficiary's discretion, allowances paid to the holders of local elected offices
Employers withhold income tax directly from the employees' salary after most social security contributions have been deducted. It's then sent to the French tax administration ("Direction Générale des Finances Publiques").
French income tax 2021
|Gross Income||Progressive Tax Rate (%)|
|Up to €10,084||0|
|€10,084 - €25,710||11|
|€25,710 - €73,516||30|
|€73,516 - €158,122||41|
|More than €158,122||45|
Married individuals file a joint tax return, with no option to file separately after the year of marriage or before the year of divorce.
An additional 3% contribution applies to income that exceeds €250,000 (single) and €500,000 for married couples, and 4% for income exceeding €500,000 (single) and €1,000,000 for married couples.
An allowance equal to 10% of the taxable employment income and capped at €12,652 per year is available to employees to cover professional expenses. An employee may elect to deduct the actual professional expenses incurred instead of the 10% standard deduction. In this case, all expenses that the employer reimburses must be added back to the taxable salary.
Qualifying professional expenses include certain commuting expenses, meals taken while away from home, and professional documentation. Professional advice should be sought before choosing any option to deduct actual costs since various conditions must be met to ensure deductibility.
Social insurance and social contributions
In contrast to most European countries, where the social security system is financed through general taxation, the system in France is funded through social security contributions, which are divided between employers and employees. Every employee contributes to old age insurance, pension and what are known as contributions sociales that include Contribution Sociale Généralisée (CSG) and Contribution au Remboursement de la Dette Sociale (CRDS). These charges are technically not a social security contribution, as they do not generate an entitlement to social security benefits, although CSG goes towards funding health care in France. Employers hold and send to the authorities the employee’s contribution when doing payroll.
Employee social security contribution breakdown
|Benefit||% of employee's gross salary|
|Generalized social contribution (CSG)||9.2%|
|Old age insurance*||6.9%|
|Contribution for the reimbursement of social debt (CRDS)||0.5%|
Employees in non-managerial positions must contribute a minimum of 3.1% and a maximum of 8.1% of their gross income to supplement their pension. Employees in managerial positions contribute between 3.1% and 7.8%.
Contribution d’Equilibre Général (CEG)
Established in 2019, CEG (Contribution d’Equilibre Général) is part of the balanced contributions to the supplementary pension scheme. The contribution is 1.29% up to the ceiling, 1.62% between one and eight times the ceiling for managers and non-managers. In the table above, CEG is combined with the rates for supplemental pension.
Benefits in kind
The market value of benefits in kind is added to the total taxable income except the following:
- business travel cost reimbursements
- reimbursements for furniture removal expenses
- While housing cost compensation covered by the employer is assessed in full for income tax purposes for expats, housing that the employer is renting or owns is subject to special rules. In this case, the taxable amount is not determined by the actual cost of the rent. Instead, it's determined by either the French social administration fixed rates (depending on salary and number of rooms) or the rental value used by the tax authorities to levy local taxes. The expat employee should not be a managing director/corporate officer of the company owning or renting the dwelling to qualify.