French and US Taxes

This was the year I finally found my rhythm filing in two countries.  I did my US business taxes in March, my US personal taxes in April (though I needed some French income estimates to complete them), my French business taxes in May, and my French personal taxes right before June.  Yes, Americans, from the country ostensibly founded on a tax revolt, always get to file taxes, no matter where they live in the world.

Everyone has different strategies and situations and how much you actually pay in taxes is down to how well-constructed those strategies are.  What I have been reminding people in previous articles over the years (here and here) is that the moment you pass 183 days in a calendar year of living in France, you transform from being a regular resident to a fiscal resident, and as such, are required to file taxes, even if you are here on a visitor visa and have earned no French income.  As I often say, the French love documentation and paperwork, and the Ministry of Finance doesn’t share records with OFII in this regard and even if they did, they wouldn’t care.  They want their own proof of your fiscal liabilities (or lack thereof) during your stay here.

If you aren’t an accountant who speaks French and also knows French accounting law, I would strongly advise against self-filing.  If you need the recommendation of someone reliable, my accountant has been filing for me since my first fiscal year in Paris and now handles my file which includes French income and tax liability.

I’ve also found new French business accountants, who have been a dream to work with and delivered the kind of customer service that I had hoped for when I signed up with the last firm I used (who I have severed ties with).

I often hear from people who mention in their emails that “no one ever told me about this” and while I fully understand that sentiment, as I had to be told about this issue myself, you can’t have that attitude when emigrating to a new country, or even staying there just a few years.  Do not wait “to be told” about anything.  You are not a customer in a store.  You are a visitor and/or future possible citizen.  Read everything you can and continuously educate yourself.

Further, be assured that as cryptocurrency begins making greater inroads and banks continue to become more rigorous in their compliance, taxes will follow you, wherever you might be domiciled.  You won’t get to skate out of a tax system simply because you aren’t living in your country of nationality and/or because you’re a legal resident of a country in which you’re a foreigner.  Be proactive.  It will go a long way to preventing unpleasant messages in long white envelopes from either the IRS or the Ministry of Finance.

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27 thoughts on “French and US Taxes

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  3. Hi! Just to bounce off the tax issue with the long-stay tourist visa. I understand you are supposed to declare taxes even without french income, but are you also supposed to declare in France any income you earn in the States? With the visa we are allowed to work, just not for a French company, but if you have a remote work situation with a US company or work freelance for US publications, etc. do you need to declare that income to France in your taxes?

    • Roxy if you “earn income in France” you’ll violate the terms of your visitor visa. The remote work income should be construed as US income. There is both moral and legal precedent to do so. Don’t make your life more complicated and jeopardize your visa.

      • Hi,
        I am so confused. If 100% of my income is through my US company while I work remotely in France, do I need to file taxes? If so, do I need to pay taxes, too, even though I have paid taxes on my salary in the US already?

        Is there anything my employer needs to do? The more I read, the more I cannot decide what to do or how to start.

        Thanks for any advice you can provide.

        • Rose

          You have to file taxes in France if you are a fiscal resident of France, whether you make any money there or not. Whether you work remotely or not. America has the same rule. I think you have to be below a certain level of poverty in the US to opt out of filing taxes. You have to file taxes if you are a fiscal resident of France and if you are living in France for more than 183 days you’re a fiscal resident.

          PAYING taxes is about what you have set up and that’s an accountant discussion.

          • Stephen,
            Thanks for your reply. I do pay my taxes in the US.

            By “set up” what do you mean, exactly?

            I would be glad to pay taxes in France, but I don’t want anything to impact my employer. I.e. if I pay taxes in France, would that somehow get back to my employer and they would be on the line for paying taxes in France, as well?

          • By set up I mean I don’t know if you own companies or properties in other countries. That affects how you are set up for taxes worldwide.

            I’m not an accountant so I can’t answer whether you will pay taxes in France or not. I can only say there is no scenario in which paying taxes in France means that your employer gets in trouble.

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  21. I need to file my first French tax filing. I am a remote worker with a VLS TS and all income is derived in the US. The French accountant that I spoke with directed me to go to the URSSF site and register my business. Based upon my research and in no small part the guidance from this website I believe this to be faulty advice.
    I would appreciate a referral to a French accountant who can assist and help me with filing and who understands the concept of a remote worker. Thank you!

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