French municipalities step up the fight against “bogus” secondary residents

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The busy Bardonnex border crossing between France and Switzerland, near Geneva keystone

The French municipalities bordering Geneva are stepping up their search for so-called “bogus residents” – around 20,000 undeclared Swiss who claim to live in Switzerland to avoid paying taxes in France.

This content was published on February 2, 2018 – 12:22

RTS / sb

Swiss public broadcaster RTS reported on FridayExternal link that the French commune of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois had recently sent a list of Swiss license plates to the Geneva authorities to help track down bogus secondary residents living in neighboring France. The RTS has indicated that the municipality wishes to expand this list or introduce systematic checks on bogus residents. The cantonal authorities of Geneva told the broadcaster that further clarification was needed from the French authorities to deal with such a request.

It is believed that there are around 20,000 undeclared Swiss or “bogus residents” in the French regions bordering Geneva – Swiss people who live most of the year in French municipalities and work in Switzerland, but who declare their residence. French as secondary residence and claim primary residence in Switzerland. These Swiss taxpayers living in France deprive the French municipalities where they reside of tax revenue estimated at 22 million euros (25.5 million francs or $ 27.5 million), according to the Pôle métropolitain du Genevois Français, a group of French pressure who is worried about the issue.

Currently, the state of Geneva levies a withholding tax on the salaries of French residents who cross the border every day to work in Switzerland for higher salaries. Two-thirds of this tax – or 1 billion francs ($ 1.1 billion) – is retained by Geneva, while the other third is paid to the French tax authorities to be distributed among French municipalities according to the number of residents. cross-border workers registered in France.

Campaign

After taking part in a campaign last year urging Geneva’s “false residents” to tell the truth, the mayor of Saint-Julien-en-GenevoiExternal links, Antoine Vielliard, now wants to track down bogus residents of other Swiss cantons, RTS reported on Friday. It is estimated that about a third, or 7,000, come from other French-speaking cantons such as Vaud and Valais.

“This is not a witch hunt or a stigma,” Gabriel Doublet, mayor of the French commune of St-Cergues, told RTS.External link. “We want to encourage people to regularize their situation and we insist that people take responsibility as citizens.”

Vielliard indicated that the town of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois would welcome new arrivals. But he insisted that the rapidly growing region and the public services in high demand in French municipalities must be properly funded, especially new bus lines, sports and cultural facilities, schools and nurseries.

He added that the agreement between France and Switzerland on the automatic exchange of tax information, which entered into force on January 1, 2018, encouraged citizens to come forward.

Although the French authorities deny expelling Swiss citizens living in France, the RTS reports a certain climate of fear among its interlocutors.

“For several days, the French customs officers watched me, waiting for me at the bend of a road. Then they came to my house in uniform, ”a Swiss told RTS anonymously in a report on January 21. External link

His car was seized by the French authorities and he was fined tens of thousands of francs for not having declared his permanent residence in France.

“The French authorities are talking about raising awareness. But in my case, I received a heavy penalty. It was too zealous, “he commented.

Geneva and France

The second largest city in Switzerland is at the crossroads with France and the Alps. A little less than a million people live in the city and wider region of Greater Geneva, the Franco-Valdo-Genevois region between Nyon in the canton of Vaud, Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, Annemasse, Meyrin, Bonneville, Thonon-les -Bains and Geneva. By 2030, the region is expected to grow by at least 200,000 inhabitants.

According to official statistics, the population of the canton of Geneva is expected to increase by 21% between 2015 and 2040 to reach 587,500. The population of the cross-border Geneva region (cross-border Geneva, which is barely larger than the Geneva metropolitan area), should also reach between 2015 and 2040 between 1.2 and 1.3 million.

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