Category Archives: Dealing with government

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. Read the rest of this entry

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The games we play

Cable TV & Internet boxes

About a month before we left the US our Internet provider notified us that the price on our basic service was going to increase to $145 per month. This was the minimum bundle offered giving us high speed Internet access, 300 television channels, and 200 minutes of landline calls within the US. The first year that we lived in France we were in a house that included wi-fi and TV in the rent so that charge was not a concern. When we bought a house, however, Bill started investigating getting us hooked up to the outside world and we were both amazed. He found a package with the second largest provider in the country that gave us high speed Internet, 200 channels, and unlimited calls to most countries around the world, including the USA for a monthly fee of 17.99 euros. As the end of that 12-month contract approached, bringing with it a price increase, it was time to play that same game we were used to before: seeing if you can find a cheaper price. Read the rest of this entry

Year 3 begins

The fortress in Carcassonne

Although we tend to use March 1 as the starting date for our new life in France, the government here considers February 20 the date since that’s when our initial visa began. Americans can enter the country for up to 90 days on their airline ticket alone, but for those of us who didn’t buy a round-trip flight, you have to do a bit more work. During that initial grace period you must schedule a medical appointment with the immigration office who will then stamp your visa as valid for an additional 9 months. At the end of your first year you can trade in the visa for a residency card that must then be renewed annually using essentially the same documentation required to come here in the first place. Basically you must prove that you won’t be a burden to the taxpayers in that you have sufficient income, health insurance, housing, etc. to take care of yourself. This week we again succeeded in doing that so we have brand new residency cards. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Linky, it’s Linky ♫♬♫

Our Linky communicating electric meter

When I was growing up, a favorite toy was Slinky®—a long metal spring that could walk down stairs or slither from one hand to the other. The company also made a version in the shape of a dog and of a train that you could pull along the floor, always with the rear half hesitating and then suddenly springing forward to meet the front. Perhaps you remember the television commercial jingle that included “It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun for a girl or a boy”. Fast forward 60 years to another place and time where we received a similarly named product but with a totally different, but fun (?), function: the Linky communicating electric meter. Read the rest of this entry

Not too taxing

Copper street lights at the train station

Now that we’ve been homeowners for more than a full calendar year, it’s time to talk about paying the taxes. We’ve never been ones to shy away from “render(ing) unto Caesar” since we understand the importance of sharing the cost of maintaining a civilized society. For example, when we take the city bus or a regional train instead of using a car, we might be helping the environment but at a fare of only 1 euro/dollar per trip, a lot of people are chipping in to make that possible. So where does this money come from and how do we pay our portion? Read the rest of this entry

Chez le dentiste

Brush your teeth after every pastry

On Thursday we went to the dentist for the first time since we moved here and as the French sometimes say “It wasn’t terrible”. In fact, the visit itself was much less traumatic than the buildup in our heads of simply making the appointment. Phoning a business remains a challenge especially when you must explain that you’re a new patient, that there are actually two of you who need to see the doctor, preferably with back-to-back appointments, and because of language classes you can’t show up on Wednesday mornings or Friday afternoons. Granted, all of that is now easy enough to say in French and even have the person on the other end of the phone understand you but the test comes in figuring out their reply. If you’ve chosen a small office you might be talking directly to the doctor, perhaps already busy with a patient, so that just adds to the anxiety. We were delighted, therefore, to find a dental practice large enough to have a receptionist we could talk to in-person, so we walked right in. Read the rest of this entry

Living in France—the book

Cover of the booklet

Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors. Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

French Lifestyle Dream

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to Hauts-de-France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures