France is preparing a “tax stamp” for the victims of property damage caused by a forest fire

People in France whose homes were damaged by wildfires this summer are to receive financial help in the form of tax relief, the French Minister of Public Accounts has announced.

Gabriel Attal presented three main measures aimed at helping people.

These include a postponement of when income tax must be paid, a possible suspension of property taxes – property tax and housing tax – and a potential drop in the cadastral rental valuea theoretical rental value used by the tax authorities to calculate these taxes.

Read more: Which French households will still have to pay housing tax in 2022?

Deferring the payment of income tax should be a one-time measure. The application and duration of the two other proposed measures are not yet specified.

If property tax and housing tax are suspended for the coming year then the benefit of the lowering of the cadastral rental value will not be immediately useful.

Companies could also benefit from “tax deferrals” and faster reimbursement of VAT or other tax credits.

Mr. Attal said that a special unit would be created next week in partnership with Urssaf, the network responsible for collecting social security contributions, to plan the proposed “tax buffer”.

61,000 hectares of forest burned

France has faced a series of massive forest fires this summer, caused by soaring temperatures, drought and the irresponsible or illegal behavior of individuals.

Read more: MAP: How to see where the forest fires are in France in real time

It is unclear how many homes or buildings in total have been damaged by the fires this year and how many people will be eligible for the tax breaks.

Read more: Homes destroyed as wildfire in southwest France reignites overnight

Tens of thousands of people have had to be evacuated from their homes due to the fires on several occasions this summer.

More than 61,000 hectares of forest have burned in the country since the start of the year, according to figures from the European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation programme.

This is equivalent to 0.11% of French territory. The average annual percentage between 2006 and 2021 was 0.02%.

Read more: France wildfires rage as minister warns of more to come

The huge forest fire in Gironde which ravaged 7,400 hectares last week is now classified as “under control”.

The fire spread through the forest around Landiras, just south of Bordeaux, forcing around 8,000 people to flee their homes. It was one of the biggest fires this summer.

Rain over the weekend and falling temperatures helped firefighters contain the fire.

There are still more than 700 on site monitoring other outbreaks. Gironde fire chief Marc Vermeulen said he was happy the blaze was now under control but warned that a “fire under control does not mean a fire is out”, saying firefighters should remain cautious.

Another fire which broke out on Sunday evening around Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes (Pyrénées-Orientales) is also under control, authorities said.

Since the beginning of the summer, 25 people suspected of having started forest fires in France have been arrested, four of whom have now been convicted.

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