CE Sect. 31 March 2017, M. Amar, n° 389842
The principle of a reasonable length of time now applies to initial claims in all fiscal matters.
1. Time limit for lodging an initial claim in tax base litigation
The taxpayer who wishes to challenge all or part of a tax must file an initial claim with the local service of the tax authorities covering the place of taxation (Article R. 190-1 of the Tax procedures’ guide):
- Claims relating to taxes other than direct local taxes and ancillary charges must be submitted to the tax authorities no later than 31 December of the second year following recovery of the tax assessed or service of a tax recovery notice (Article R. 196-1 of the Tax procedures’ guide).
- As regards direct local taxes and ancillary charges, the time limit for filing a claim ends no later than 31 December of the year following recovery of the tax assessed or service of a tax recovery notice (Article R. 196-2 of the Tax procedures’ guide).
Furthermore, the time limits for appeal against an administrative decision are only enforceable provided that they and the appeal channels have been stated in the notification of the decision (Article R. 421-5 of the Code of administrative justice).
It follows from the combination of these provisions that:
- on the one hand, the tax notice or the tax recovery notice by which the tax authorities inform the taxpayer of the taxes due must state the existence and mandatory nature of the initial claim, failing which any judicial appeal is inadmissible, as well as the periods during which the taxpayer must lodge this claim,
- and, on the other hand, the non-compliance of the obligation to inform the person concerned about the channels and time limits for appeal, or the absence of evidence that such information was provided, does not allow the appeal time limits to be enforceable on him.
However the principle of legal certainty, which implies that situations consolidated by the effect of time cannot be questioned without any condition as to time limits, precludes an individual administrative decision which has been notified to its recipient, or for which it is established, failing such notification, that the latter became aware of it, from being challenged indefinitely. In the case where a judicial appeal must be preceded by a mandatory prior administrative appeal, the latter must be exercised, as must the judicial appeal, within a reasonable length of time. The prior administrative appeal must be presented within the time limits provided for in Articles R. 196-1 or R. 196-2 of the Tax procedures’ guide, extended by one year (except in specific circumstances pleaded by the applicant). In such an event, the administrative appeal time limit runs from the year during which it is established that the taxpayer became aware of the existence of the taxation.
2. Time limit for lodging an initial claim in recovery litigation
Furthermore, challenges relating to the recovery of taxes, duties, fees and any sums whose collection is the responsibility of public accountants must be sent to the tax authorities of the accountant in charge of the proceedings (Article L. 281 of the Tax procedures’ guide). Prior claims must, in order to be admissible, be submitted to the Tax Authority within a time limit of 2 months from the notification of any instrument of proceedings if the ground invoked is the obligation to pay or the amount of the debt or of the first instrument of proceedings allowing to invoke any other ground (Article R. 281-3-1 of the Tax procedures’ guide). If the notification of the decision does not contain the statements provided for in Article R. 421-5 of the Code of administrative justice or if the evidence of the notification of this decision is not established, the taxpayer must send his claim within a reasonable length of time from the date on which the instrument of proceedings has been notified to him or from the date on which it is established that he became aware of it. Except in specific circumstances pleaded by the applicant, this period may not exceed one year.