I recently had the opportunity to meet with one of the readers of the blog over lunch. We discussed some of his strategies for staying in France but since he had just recently arrived I asked him to check with some of his connections (he had done work at an accounting/consulting firm) about getting taxes filed. That’s right – as an American, even if you’re here on a visitor visa and prevented by the terms of your visa from working for a French company in France, the French government requires you to file a tax return.
You read that correctly. Now, despite the fact that you don’t owe any taxes, you still have to prepare the taxes, in French, according to French accounting laws. If you don’t have these intersecting skill sets, let me know and I can connect you with an amazing firm that did this for me for the 2014 tax year. If this has slipped through the cracks for you, let me know asap and I will try and connect you – there’s no fine and no fee to pay (as ostensibly, you don’t have taxes to pay) but you don’t want the French government catching you doing something you are supposed to do. Better late than forgetting altogether.
2015 will be the last year that I will be considered a “non-fiscal” resident – as part of the path to citizenship (which involves my new visa) is paying taxes. If you aren’t married to a French person, and don’t pay taxes for 5 consecutive years, you aren’t on the path to citizenship. I still can’t say I “look forward” to paying taxes, but I do look forward to “being on the path.” 🙂
* * *
Early on in this blog’s life I wrote about opening a French bank account. It’s honestly something you’re going to need to do if you plan to stay here for longer than 6 months. However, again pursuant to your visa status, you really only want wire transfers coming in from yourself, not from employers – even if those employers are outside France – this will just cause questions at the Prefecture should they look closely at your bank accounts when you come for your appointment.
Wire transfers are “old-fashioned” in our modern age and carry old-fashioned fees. The originating bank charges the sender (i.e. YOU sending to yourself), the receiving bank charges the receiver (again, YOU), and then there are currency exchange fees. However, this system is in the midst of being disrupted by a company started by the guys who built Skype and bankrolled by the likes of Sir Richard Branson. It’s called Transferwise. If you click this link your first transfer is free so you can try it for yourself with no risk. To learn more about how they do this, and circumvent the wire transfer system, watch this funny video.
Hope you enjoy the service as much as I do. I’m an unabashed user, though I can’t imagine my US or French banks have been happy to miss out on all those fees I used to pay them 🙂