Today I learned a lot about Capital Gains or Plus Value in French ... I also learned that when you ask a lot of people about this... they all have a little bit of information, and most of the time it's wrong. That is, if the notaire is to be believed (and if the buck stops there... usually they are...)
Generally, if you are non-resident in France (i.e. not paying tax in France) and you want to sell your second home in France ( i.e. the home that is not your principal residence) - make sure you do tax returns in France - even if they are zero.... so that you can show you are tax resident in France. If you can produce utility bills with something actually consumed on them - you can then prove that it is your principal residence.
I found this site to be quite interesting for plus value calculations. Generally, my friend ends up paying 1pc of the selling price of her property, irrelevant of how she spent on buying it in the beginning (less than 15 years ago) and irrelevant of how much she's spent doing it up, and even though she's made a loss on the sale.
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Telling you how it is, no rose-tinted spectacles here.