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
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
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
By living 4000 miles (6400 kilometers) from Washington, DC we can escape some of the news that revolves around the White House but once people here learn that we’re from the US they definitely want to talk politics. That’s been the case over the last 25 years that we’ve been visiting France no matter who the president was/is. So while we may be a long way from the Oval Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there’s an address right next door at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue that’s as close as your bank account. The Internal Revenue Service knows where we live. Read the rest of this entry
Although we bought our house here in Carcassonne a few months ago, I haven’t felt as if we really live there…until today. One of the requirements for getting a visa for our first year in France was to have an address, so we rented a fully-furnished house. It’s really comfortable and truly came with everything we needed to live, down to the knives, forks, and spoons, and the all-important Internet. The only problem is that once we venture outside of our 2-foot thick (60 cm.) walls, there is no wi-fi, so when we go over to work on the house I feel a bit out of touch…until today. Read the rest of this entry
We love the game shows on the French TV stations. They happen to be broadcast during our happy hour(s) every evening. We watch with the subtitles on in French so we can comprehend some of the words that are spoken so quickly. Money Drop is a great show where money is placed on trap doors of the answers and the losing answers drop the money away back to the vault.
We think of this show every day as the planes line up to land at the local airport and they have to pass by the Cité and over the Bastide St. Louis. Yes there might be a bit of noise as they fly directly overhead but the planes are filled with tourists coming to the area to spend their vacation (and Euros) in the region. Each and every tourist dropping out of the sky helps our local economy and in turn helps keep the taxes lower for those of us living here on a permanent basis. As the region is known for the wine production and the two UNESCO world heritage sites there are not many large businesses as a tax base, although this is the world’s largest wine producing region and we are doing our part to keep the vintners in production. Read the rest of this entry
It may have taken three months, that felt like a year, but we have signed the final sales contract on a house in France. The first time I mentioned anything about house buying on the blog was in a post from May when we had been taking some pictures of courtyards. We both crave light, finding dismal days depressing, so a house built around an outdoor courtyard, with glass doors and windows opening each room to the sun was ideal. There are websites (listed at the end) that give complete details about the entire house buying process here, but the highlights of what we went through are below. Read the rest of this entry