The taxes are here

Tax forms in a plain blue wrapper

Since today, April 15, is traditionally Tax Day in the US, it probably sounds odd for us to say that we were happy to see our French income tax forms arrive last week, but that’s exactly how we feel. Last year was our first time to report our revenue and it turned out to be relatively simple as I wrote about in the blog post You can run, but…. We filled out the paper forms, following a guide in English that we purchased, and deposited them directly into the huge mailbox in front of the Center of Public Finance office just before the mid-May due date. According to the treaty between our 2 countries, generally speaking, you pay tax based on where you earn the money and since our income is all from US pensions, we anticipated that only Uncle Sam would be sending us a bill. Four months later we were pleased to discover that the French government agreed and sent us a letter to confirm that; however, one important piece of information was missing from that document.

With some exceptions, after you file your income taxes for the first time on paper, in subsequent years you are required to fill out the forms online found at the finance department’s website.  To create an account you need 2 numbers: your ID number, that appeared on the confirmation letter we had just received plus an online access number that would act as a password for your initial setup. In place of that number were the words “see your declaration form”. To help us figure out how to log in to our account we asked a neighbor who volunteered to telephone the Public Finance office for us and within a few minutes we had the answer. We would have to wait until April when tax forms are sent out to those who did not file online the previous year. Sure enough, last week our mail carrier brought us the navy blue envelope you see above that included 2 of the 3 forms we would need, one of which included that vital access code.

Now armed with the code and a copy of the forms we had filled in last year we logged into our account and soon had recorded our revenue from within France (zero), from the US, and any bank accounts outside this country. The guidebook we had purchased to help us in filling in the blanks suggested that we include a reminder about the double taxation avoidance treaty between the 2 countries, about the private health insurance we have while awaiting becoming members of the national health system here, and the euro to dollar exchange rate we had used in the figures. It took a bit of searching but we happened upon the Mention Expresse check box that provided an area where we could type in those details.

Within seconds of electronically signing the form we received an email confirmation that our return had been received and when we logged back into our account we found a pdf of all the forms filled in as if we had done so on paper. That will be a handy reference to use next year. Now we wait until September when we anticipate receiving an email saying that since we have already paid income tax to the US, we have received a credit for the French taxes due, leaving a balance due of zero. That is definitely the case of “nothing is something”.

One thought on “The taxes are here

  1. Bob, we’ve used the online filing for 3 years now, and it has worked well, except that each year, we were charged for “social charges” of 15% on non-pension income. However, a trip to the local fisc got the charges removed. I didn’t know about the “mention expresse”, so I’ll give that a try this year. Bon courage.

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