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Archive for the ‘Les impots’ Category

For a blog about a foreigner living in France there’s not that much stuff on here about the horrors of French bureaucracy and you could be lulled into a false sense of security that everything was hunky dory and not that hard in France – just as I was.

As I’ve been living here for quite a while now, a lot of my French paperwork has already been taken care of – a kind of “been there, done that” thing. Furthermore, there is no longer any requirement for Europeans to have a Carte de Sejour (a type of residency permit) in order to live in France so I do not have to worry about this either. I do have plenty of horror stories from my days of having to apply though; student residency, short term residency and then the final 10 year residency permit which I now keep in my bed side table as a special souvenir of how I overcame the French system.

These days my experiences are much less frequent and since starting this blog things have been relatively calm on the paperwork front… That was until last month. Since then, paperwork problems have become a common occurrence: Our Avis d’Imposition (tax document showing how much tax you have to pay) arrived accompanied with a cheque for a couple of hundred Euros :) Kerching!

If you’re a regular reader you may remember reading my sarcastic comments back in April when I received the tax declaration form to complete. Well thanks to Sarah at St Bloggie de Riviere, Hubby and I decided to have a go at completing the forms online and since I was cutting it fine on the date (I had missed the limit date for sending your application by post) internet seemed to be the way to go.

After hours of battling with the forms (yes, hours!) and constant verification of last years declaration to ensure that we put the right figures in the right place on the right form, we were finally finished. Success! We were so pleased to have completed this highly ennuyeux tast that we celebrated with Cremant. Thankfully the celebrations only took place after having printed out the confirmation page and after having carefully filed this away.

So back to our Avis d’Imposition and the cheque. A closer inspection of the document revealed that they had not taken any of our income into consideration, just a meager portion hence why they were sending us a cheque.

“Great” I thought, “an easy way out of paying tax this year, we had submitted the correct information but they had chosen not to use it and to send me a cheque instead – what could be better?”. I started to day dream about what I would spend the money on? A new bag from Lancel that I had seen in their preview collection? A romantic weekend in Paris or maybe put it towards our plane tickets to Nairobi?

Moral quibbling got the better of me though as a nagging part of my brain kept telling me that it was our responsibility to inform Les Impots of their mistake and to rectify it. Years of hearing horror stories of people being investigated by Les Impots had got the better of me and had turned me into a quivering being in the face of their presence.

So I picked up the phone to them, ensuring that I was not calling just after they started in the morning, therefore giving them plenty of time to relax into their days work. I did not afterall want to risk speaking to an employee who had not yet had their dose of coffee that morning.

I explained the problem to the employee who told me it was not possible that they made a mistake and that I had not submitted the correct information. “non, non” I insisted “I have the proof that the information I submitted contained my full income and not the figures that you have here”. So the employee checked the system and was still indignant that I had not submitted the correct information and started speaking of penalties and false declarations. Desperate I asked him what I could do and was told I had to go and see them with the proof of what I had submitted.

So now today, I have to take my sorry self down to the tax office (mine happens to be the other side of the damn city) and sort their mess out. This is what I love about France – I have done everything correctly on my side, they make a mistake and the onus is on MOI to sort out their problem.

Fingers crossed it all goes well otherwise you may just see a story about a deranged English women assaulting a tax office employee on the TF1 news this evening!

UPDATE: So after plucking up the courage necessary to take myself down to the tax office this morning, I got a ticket and waited for an hour with what seemed like the rest of Lyon (seriously, that place is huge and there were loads of people there). Eventually my number came up just as I was about to fall asleep, so I woke myself up and set off to meet the Taxman! Quickly I explained my problem, showed him the forms, the copy of what I had submitted and the cheque that they had sent me. Just as quickly he explained that I would have to come back as their computer system was down and that he couldn’t do anything today. NIGHTMARE! Seeing that I was furious and obviously a reader of this blog (he must have seen Fly’s comment about the Guillotine) , he was quick to want to give me more money, telling me I can cash the cheque (handbag!) and that furthermore I was entitled to a Prime pour l’Emploi and that I can get this rectified too when I come back. So they want to give me more money??? Something’s not right here so I was careful to take his name and am now back to square 1 regarding this whole matter…

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It’s that time of year again… you know, the time when you receive a dreaded blue plastic envelope through the post containing your Declaration d’Impots. Surprisingly these must have been sent at about the same time as Earth day, do the French government not have any concern for the environment? Surely, a recycled paper envelope would be better, although I’m sure they have a good reason (that reason maybe being that a dog cannot eat a plastic envelope?).

I’ve been so caught up in events recently, that I didn’t even realise these blasted things were in the process of being sent out. But lo and behold, despite my busy life, the French tax office certainly did not forget me. How thoughtful of them! Maybe they read my post ranting about not having a right to vote despite paying taxes?

I was intrigued to see that they had pre-completed parts of the form for me. How did they know how much I earned in 2009 and more importantly how did they know about a bank account that both Hubby and I had forgotten about? They just know. But thanks to them we’ve located an account where we have about 100 Euros and earn a teeny tiny amount of interest each year. That’s saving for you! Of course, I now have to check everything to make sure that they’ve got it all correct so I now know what I’ll be doing this weekend. It’s going to rain anyway, so it’s not as if I’ll be missing out on any fun outdoor activities.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with French tax returns, this is a true social event. My earliest memories date from my first propery job, where we used to spend our lunch breaks calculating how much income we were allowed to remove in order to pay less tax. French Francs (yes, even though I am not yet 30, I have been working that long) could be deducted depending on how far away you live from your place of work and also whether or not your company provides kitchen facilities. It always was an interesting debate as to whether the decrepid microwave consisted of kitchen facilities.

The basic form is just 4 pages long, but trillions of other forms exist and should be completed depending on what you need to declare. Of course, they don’t necessarily send these forms to you, so you have to know what they are and where to find them. An interesting task indeed!

You also get a 24 page guide on how to complete it and then a new guide with each new form. This makes for great bedtime reading and for anyone with insomnia this may just be a sure-fire way of finding sleep.

Sorry, I’m feeling very sarcastic, so I’ll go and pour myself a glass of wine and I’ll leave the French speakers among you to re-visit this amusing song about the French tax man I posted last year…

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Its now the time of year when the French tax man bleeds you dry. During October I paid the Taxe Fonciere, in November I have the Taxe d’Habitation to pay and also the social security debt tax which I forgot the name of but is basically due because in 2008 I earned my income outside of France. Whilst no income tax is due on my earnings thanks to the double tax treaty I still have to pay a 12% tax on it…

It hit me that France penalises you for owning a property. In any country it is a privilege to own a property and is not something that is accessible for everyone, I’m aware of that. But in France it really is a privilege and you will be taxed for the rest of your property ownership days just to remind you of that!

First, when you buy a property you will pay horrendously high notary fees which comprise your stamp duty etc (in the region of 6 – 10% of the property price for existing property depending on the price). Then every year after you pay the Taxe Fonciere which is an exclusive tax paid for by property owners. You then also pay the Taxe d’Habitation which everyone who owns or rents a property pays. How unfair is that?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, all this in a country where I do not have the right to vote at National Elections… Bitter, moi? Never!

It appears the French feel very similar, Les Inconnus did a fantastic song about Les Impots, if you understand French you have to watch this, its so true!

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In a right pickle over tax matters – why is nothing ever simple ?

After spending all of yesterday morning with our French Expert Comptable (an expert accountant?) completing our income tax return, my blonde hair has now taken on a shade of grey.

In the three hours we were there, we spent two hours, forty five minutes deciding on our tax position, completed no less than 4 different returns for four parts of our income and during fifteen minutes discussed how much income tax we would pay (les impots) and how much CRDS tax we would pay on top of that (CRDS is a tax which everyone pays to help clear the debt in the French social security. It is paid on top of your income tax). Did I mention that this was our second appointment and that we were there two hours for the first one?

Turned out we don’t have any tax to pay, in fact they owe us money. YES! Oh no, tax is just Les Impots, don’t forget the CRDS the accountant said – you must pay that. I am bemused. How can they pay me back tax and yet I still need to pay thousands of Euros to clear the debt in the social security system here?

Also, why do they not understand that if there is debt due to how the healthcare system is run, they are not solving the problem unless they change how it is run. Is it that hard to realise that giving someone a box of 30 tablets when they only need 7 is a far more expensive way of running the system and thus lining the pockets of the various drug companies.

So that’s sorted, just need to sort out ongoing argument between UK and French accountant about where our tax residency lies now. Next year, I will have forward planned and everything will be so much more simple. :)

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