COVID-19: Moratorium to Suspend Certain Tax Deadlines Relating to Statutes of Limitation, Tax Audits, and Recovery of Tax Receivables

March 26, 2020

On March 23, 2020, the French Parliament adopted an emergency law establishing a “state of health emergency”, declared for an initial period of two months from the date of entry into force, i.e., from March 24, 2020 to May 24, 2020 (Emergency Law No. 2020-290 of March 23, 2020 to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic) (the “Emergency Law”).

This initial period may be extended or shortened by law.

The Emergency Law empowers the Government to take general measures by ordinance to combat Covid-19, as well as a number of specific measures to ensure the continued function of the state and the economy during the crisis and in particular, to adjust procedural deadlines, and contractual time limits during the state of health emergency, with retroactive effect to March 12, 2020.

These provisions have led to a series of 25 orders, adopted by the French Government on March 25, 2020 and officially published on March 26, 2020. Order No 2020-306 on the extension of time limits expiring during the state of health emergency and on the adaptation of procedures during that same period provides, inter alia, for suspension of certain tax deadlines relating to statutes of limitation, tax audits and recovery of tax receivables[1]:

  • Suspension for a duration equal to the period between March 12, 2020 and the expiration of a period ending one month after the end of the “health emergency” period (the “Covered Period”)[2]:
  1. of statutes of limitation applicable to tax and customs matters ending on December 31, 2020 (other limitation periods not being impacted), and
  2. both for taxpayers and authorities, of all the deadlines applicable in the conduct of audits and investigations procedures in tax and customs matters, including rulings. The periods which would in principle have started to run during the Covered Period will only start to run from the end of such period.

    Caution ! the deadlines for tax returns used for the purposes of the assessment, calculation and collection of taxes, duties and levies remain unchanged.

  • Suspension, for all receivables to be recovered by public accountants (such as tax receivables), of the limitation periods applicable to the recovery and dispute of claims which were in progress as of 12 March 2020 or which started to run during the Covered Period (and which are sanctioned by of invalidity, lapsing, foreclosure, limitation or unenforceability of a right or action) until the end of a period of three months following the end date of the health emergency period[3]

We are at your disposal to answer any questions you may have regarding these new provisions.


[1]           This note addresses tax and customs matters only. There are special provisions on civil, administrative, commercial, criminal and labor matters.

[2]           Article 10 of the order.

[3]           Article 11 of the order.