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…