Antoine Vielliard, the mayor of the French commune Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, which borders the canton of Geneva, is after those who live in France but pretend to live in Geneva.
In a radio interview on Swiss broadcaster RTS, he explains how they estimate the level of fraud and how they are combatting it.
Across neighbouring France an estimated 20,000 people declare themselves resident in Switzerland while living primarily in France. Antoine Vielliard says this could be as high as one in every two Swiss living in this part of France. Their homes in France are classified as second homes, which means they pay tax in Switzerland rather than in France where they live.
One motivation behind the practice is to avoid the discrimination sometimes faced in Geneva’s job market by cross-border workers. In addition, Vielliard says that some do it out of negligence, some do it to pay less tax, although according to him, some may pay less tax once declared resident in France.
Vielliard points out that these people are using local public infrastructure without paying local taxes. He estimates lost tax revenue for his commune at 1 million euros.
One method used to estimate the number of undeclared French residents is to count the number of Swiss plated cars crossing the border during the morning rush hour. Last year they observed that a third of cars crossing from France had Swiss plates.
To push people to declare their French home as their primary residence, the commune of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois has progressively increased the commune taxes (taxe d’habitation) associated with homes declared as secondary residences. On 8 February 2017, the premium applied to second homes was raised to 60%. According to LeMessager.fr, part-time residents will now pay on average, 369 euros p.a. more than those declaring themselves full-time residents.
There is a rise in the number declaring France as their main home in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois. The Mayor says 600 Swiss had declared France their main home two years ago. Last year this rose to 800 and now the figure stands at around 1,000. He thinks there are still another 600 that have not yet come clean. In 2014, the commune had a population of 13,253.
The mayor says that other neighbouring French communes are starting to follow his commune’s example. Annemasse has introduced supplementary taxes for second homes, and he believes Ferney-Voltaire is also about to do it.