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 five 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.” 🙂
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Early on in this blog’s life I talked about getting 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 Wise. 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 🙂
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I’ve also had a good experience using xoom.com. It was recently purchased by PayPal, so I don’t know if the fees will go up (currently $4.99/transfer) or if anything will change, but for now I’m a fan.
Thanks Lucy! 🙂
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Question for you — I am considering moving to France temporarily on a long stay visitor visa (for six months to a year), while still doing some consulting work for an American company. Would you be able to explain what you know about French taxes in this situation?
Hi Lauren – you fall under the circumstance I mentioned in this article. On a long-term stay visa of more than 6 months you are required to file a tax return even if that tax return indicates no income earned in France.
Hi, so does it mean I have to declare my salary from a remote employer outside france?
Not to France if you are on a visitor visa.
Thanks for replying even if this already a 2 year old thread. I am in the process of applying for a long stay visitor visa and has just been pacsed. I read somewhere it will help my dossier if I have some form of income coming from outside france like a remote job. Is it true or even legal? As long as it is not a french based firm
Rosel it doesn’t matter whether the income is from a job or from savings or from a trusth fund. When you say “help your dossier” all that matters is that you can prove to the French you have money to stay and not compete in their job market. Whether that’s from a remote job or otherwise is of no concern to the French.
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