France: French taxes: 'Encaisse a l'etranger'- what does it mean?:
When we arrived in France, we were told (by our boss at the time) that my husband's entire salary counted as 'encaissee a l'etranger' on the tax forms, as it is direct deposited from a US company into a US bank and then a portion is transferred to our French account to pay bills and such.
Now, we are being told (by a different boss) that our salary is not all eligible for that, that ONLY the salary made while we are physically IN the US can be counted as 'encaissee a l'etranger'.
Which is the case?
To make it even more confusing, I now have an income as well (freelance writing/editing)- paid in France, but to my US-based company. How should I treat that on my taxes? (as just regular income or does that count as 'encaissee a l'etranger' since the entity receiving it (my US-based business) is American?
We can't afford an accountant and the question is rather urgent, as we just found out about the change and may have to redo our taxes depending on the answer.
Thanks for any help you can give!
France: conflicting info on what constitutes 'foreign income' in France.:
We've live in France for almost 12 years (married with 3 kids, one of whom just turned 19). Throughout this time, my husband's salary has come strictly from the US, direct deposited into a US bank account. We file taxes in the US and in France.
When we went to fill out our first tax forms in France, we were told that ALL of our income needed to be first put on the pink form (revenues encaisse a l'etranger) and then that number entered also into the regular box for 'salaires'.
NOW (last year), we are told (by people in a similar situation who go to different accountants) that is not correct- that we can't declare all of our income as 'encaisse a l'etranger', only income we earn while we are physically IN the US- like the 4-5 weeks we may be there on a vacation or something- THAT is the ONLY income we can enter on the 'foreign income' form in France.
So we're getting different answers from different accountants in France- which is pretty normal for here, lol.
But what is the answer? As a result, we aren't imposeable here (we do pay the tax d'habitation, taxe fonciere- as homeowners, etc). In my mind (and this may be faulty logic), 'encaisse a l'etranger' means the place where the money went into the bank... (for me, if it were direct depoisited into a French account, that may not be the case...), but American company into American account = 'encaisse a l'etranger' (to me).
Our US income is such (as in pretty darn low, lol) that when we fill out our taxes THERE, we are under the ceiling for Foreign income (which we don't *try* to claim, we use TurboTax or Taxact which each ask a series of questions and the program determines what you are eligible for).
So we have people who are telling us that we should be paying taxes somewhere (which should be true, I think), but why aren't we taxed in the US? I NEED ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS FIRST, bc It gets more complicated (there is more to the story)... :-)
France: Dispute customs:
Is there a way to dispute the amount of customs charged on a package? I left my iPod (2 years old) in the states and my MIL shipped it and the customs are almost *more* that what it would cost to replace it. I can provide proof of purchase.
Or am I just out of luck?
France: Working for US company in France on Long Term stay visa:
when we got here, the rule was you *have* to get on the French medical system if you're here 5 years or longer. Your kids are completely eligible for French public school, no problem.
As long as you are financially independent and get a carte de sejour every year, you can live here indefinitely with no French job. If you are the worker of the family and wish to get benefits from the CAF, you can, but you have to go through what's called a 'regroupement familiale' which is basically a process proving you're here on your own means and not sucking off the French system (but once approved, you can suck away, lol!). If you get your regroupement, the 'nonworking' spouse (the one NOT under a US work contract) DOES then have the right to work.
Once you get your 10-year residence card (after your 5th annual carte de sejour) you then have the right to work, regardless of your US contract.
Hope that helped...
France: Desiring to Move to France:
we got ours in Chicago and it was a matter of going to the local police department, not the FBI, and getting a letter from them stating we'd never been arrested (or something to that effect).
France: Make new friends in your community:
I agree that for many of us that is true, but I also think that it would really depend on why you were here and for how long.
I'm going to digress here for a minute-
The wife/husband of a diplomat or an executive sent overseas for 6 months to France (or some other job that requires a move to France), who may not have a particular affinity for French culture, may need to create as home-like (ie Anglophone) an atmosphere as possible, just to survive the assignment.
Whereas a Francophile who really loves the idea of living here (or who may not necessarily *love* it, but will be here for a long assignment- over a year or 2), will find it necessary to develop and maintain their skill in the language.
Then, what you do, is get someone who wants to learn English (maybe through the OP's site) and set up an exchange- you practice French part of the time, they practice English, and everyone wins... :-)
France: Qwerty laptop in France?:
you can convert any keyboard to qwerty in the keyboard prefs of the control panel. It will *look* like an AZERTY, but act as a QWERTY. Obviously this is only feasible if you have the keyboard memorized, lol.
If you are going to be typing in both languages, it would be useful as well because you'll have the accents right there on the keys and not have to enter codes for them. When I was typing a lot in both French and English, I got to the point where I could *only* type in French on an AZERTY - I had a super-difficult time typing in French on a qwerty...
France: Fear of Walking Home Alone-- An American Phenonmenon?:
I totally agree- given the state of American network news, I always feel like (when we're in the states) that our home will be invaded while we watch TV, that every single man I see on the street is a potential rapist and that every stranger wants to rob me, kill me or hijack my car...
Most of the time I feel *much* safer walking around in Lyon than I do in the states. Especially in the predominantly 'French' quartiers.
That may sound offensive, but statistically, most of the violent crime here happens in immigrant/non-French quartiers and suburbs (including assault, aggression towards bus drivers, beatings, fighting and such).
In the French-populated areas, petty theft (NOT of the mugging variety), larceny, vandalism and the like seem to be the crimes of choice- crimes committed against properties as opposed those physically committed against the people who own them ...
France: Preschool in Paris:
I can't speak for Paris proper, but a lot depends on 2 things- your daughter's personality (outgoing or shy) and how long you plan on staying. If she's outgoing and chatty and has no problems joining a group, a school with more French than English shouldn't be a problem. Our daughter was 3 when we moved here, started right in a French preschool and was mostly fluent by Christmas. But, she had a real desire to communicate. Contrast this with our son who was 7 and content to live in the clouds and who has just now (in the last 2-3 years) really gotten comfortable with the language (he's 16!). So take a good, hard and especially OBJECTIVE look at your child. I say objective, because it's easy to say, "Oh, he/she is smart, no problem." I can't emphasize enough that at the beginnings and a very young age, *smart* really doesn't enter into it at all, really. My son was an early reader and talker, but that had *zero impact* on his learning a foreign language, both from a personality standpoint (at the beginning when he first started in school here at age 7) to a natural gifting standpoint (strong with language or not). We've come to discover, in fact, that foreign languages just aren't his thing - he's been in German and Spanish and they are his weakest subjects BY FAR.
Also, how long you're planning to stay is huge- if you are on a short-term assigment (2 years or less), that would make more of an impact than someone who's planning to be here indefinitely/for the long haul.
How long will you be here?
France: Virtually New Appliances For Sell:
where exactly are you located?
France: Taxe d'Habitation:
I don't have a site, but I have my avis d'impot (for the taxe d'habitation) right here. It's a combo of house size/age, community property values and income. It also includes the TV tax. It's a pretty complicated formula. It's impossible to calculate your own, since it's largely based on a community/department average property value coefficient. The top row of the calclulation spreadsheet is based on those things. The values are given twice, once 'brute' (gross) and 'moyen' for the commune and then the department. They are called, the 'valeur locative brute' and 'valeur locative moyen' Then is the 'taux speciale d'equipement'. Then, under 'commune' and 'department' there is a series of percentages, coefficients and things.
The income is the reference fiscal de reference and it's the base for everything for the given year- it determines the rate at which you're taxed, what your rights are as far as the allocation familiale, etc. The only thing it serves is to tell you at which tax rate you fall. The raw number isn't used in calculations, just puts you in the table somewhere. So the shorter answer is 'yes, but the number itself isn't used in calculation'. I hope that helps- if you need anything else, let me know, bc I just received all my paperwork and have it handy to refer to (at least for the moment, lol!).
France: possible restrictions for traveling outside of France:
that last bit of advice is GOLDEN- France relies on people knowing the context, so they only give answers to the questions you ask. They don't want to offend you by treating you like an imbecile by offering tons of (what they feel may be) unneeded advice. You will absolutely lose count of the number of times you *didn't* know something because you didn't know the right question/person to ask. If you throw yourself on their mercy and say, "I'm really new to all this paperwork and such, and I am sure I don't even know the right question to ask - can you tell me if there is anything else I may need to know?" You could also joke about how much trouble you're causing them by having all the paperwork ("I don't know how you get all this stuff done, it must be a real pain- I'm sorry to add to it!" something to that effect)- this gets you on the same side as the civil servant, and is NEVER bad.
If you can borrow a child, even better, bc mine would always (this is her natural personality, she wasn't scripted or anything) complimented whoever it was behind the desk on their jewelry, scarf, outfit etc... Once, we had our baby (other daughter) and the women were all Oohing and aahing over her, and it was lovely. Good luck!
As for the travelling through Europe without the CDS, we were always told that if we had the OFFICIAL 'convocation' showing our appointment, that was fine (I actually had to return from the states with one). But now that the CDS is not glued in your passport, I haven't had anyone look at anything but my passport in 6 years! I'm not sure why the visa is so expensive now, but ours was so long ago it's quite possible that the cost has gone up...
France: U.S. computer use in France:
we have canalsat (NOT canal+), with the option of all channels (minus adult). It's 43 euros (IIRC)/month, and there is a large selection of children's programming, including Disney channel and Cartoon network. You can set your box up so that it broadcasts in the original language, so a HUGE part of it (esp on the Disney channel) is in English. Good luck!
I have a bunch of American friends in Grenoble, if you're looking for an English-speaking Protestant church (or just a friendly face, bc they are super nice), send me a PM and I'll pass on their info. :-)
France: long term visa.:
Unless something has changed, the visa and the carte de sejour are completely different. The long stay visa is your approval from France BEFORE LEAVING THE STATES that says you can stay for 90 days with no more paperwork. If you are going to stay longer, you have to present yourself at a local prefecture during your first week here to apply for your carte de sejour. That is your residence card that permits you to stay past 90 days. It's good for one year, to be renewed annually. After your 3rd-5th RENEWAL (depending on your situation and who you talk to - we didn't get ours until our 6th renewal bc we had bad info), you can apply for the 10 year card. That's RENEWAL, not time in the country. At least that's what we were told. SO MUCH of what happens here depends on who you talk to and what day! (hard to believe but true).
We got our long stay visa from the consulate in Chicago completely by mail in 3 weeks. If you live near a consulate, you may be able to do everything in person and speed up the process. Also, what they are looking for is evidence of self-sufficiency, ie, you're not coming to sponge off the French system. So the more 'independence' you can show, like work contracts, insurance, etc, the better off you'll be. Good luck! Post here if you have any other questions about the process- it's terribly confusing and other than forums like this, you won't get much help. Unless you move to Lyon, bc the woman who works at the American presence post of the consulate (Genevieve) is AMAZING- helpful, nice, perfect English and very willing to talk you through things...
France: email address in France:
no, hotmail.com and hotmail.fr are two separate domains and are not interchangeable. Make sure when giving your email address, you say that it's 'point com et non pas point fr'. We have missed tons of emails bc people thought they were interchangeable! Good luck!
France: On the move to France:
without a doubt, Bien-dire magazine and the line of essentials. The magazine is bimonthly, in French (published in Lyon) and has articles and grammar exercises. The Essentials line are all topically based and range from advanced beginner through advanced (there is no product for a complete beginner, the line's only shortfall, I think). www.biendire.com
France: Relocating to France from Canada:
When we first moved to France, we found that EVERY DAY around 6pm, we were *exhausted* and grouchy. We finally realized that that was the hour when we reached our 'speaking French' limit!
Starting the kids at 3 gave them (and us, by proxy)the quickest ticket to integrating into the village and being seen as a serious resident and not someone who isn't going to take part in the community. Depends on the kid's personality, too -- if he's really social, I'd definitely go for it. My daughter was 2 1/2 when she started in PS and by December she was fairly fluent. BUT she's EXTREMELY chatty and really had a desire to learn so she could socialize. My son could have cared less and was content to sit in the corner in the clouds all day...
France: navigating the French public school system - Help!:
I would respectfully disagree about the schools being well-equipped. I have no doubt that the school you spoke of had a program, but they aren't all that common.
When we arrived, my son was also 7. However his personality is such that he had no desire to learn to speak, and therefore sat in a fog for a year. There are not 'ESL' (but French) programs in every school - we are in Lyon, and there was one school (at the time) that had a program. If your child is shy, reserved, or generally not very outgoing, it can be very difficult and they may not just 'get it' (as the teachers kept telling us- "Don't worry, he'll catch on". He didn't).
On the other hand, our daughter (2 1/2 at the time) started school in the fall and was able to communicate well by Christmas and (mostly) fluent by the end of the year. I think the personality of the kid makes a huge difference.
I was an elementary school teacher in the states for 8 years before coming here, so it's not like I wasn't trying to advocate for him. There are not programs in every school here to help kids with special needs, whether they have learning disabilities or if they are gifted. Schools here (in general) are geared toward the biggest part of the bell curve. As far as an 'average' student goes, the education is great.
There are schools that have those programs, yes, they do exist, but they are nowhere near as widespread. The intensive language program for elementary school kids is called CLIN and it's one school year long. They have French studies in the morning and then are integrated (as much as possible according to their level of French) into math and maybe history. I have 3 kids who have all been in the public school system since we arrived in 2002 (I also worked 2 years for the Inspection Academique - national board of education), so feel free to get in touch if you want.
Cheryl (in Lyon)
France: South African considering moving to France:
there is another South African moving to France here on the forum. Her user name is mflute and her topic is on the front page (living costs in Lyon). She is extremely nice and seems to know a lot of those types of details, I suggest you contact her by private message here in the forum.
Your living expenses and all would largely depend on how close you are to Paris, the closer the more expensive.
France: Living costs in Lyon:
We live in Lyon, and I think that your estimated living expenses are reasonable (we are a family of 5, and live on around 3100 euros a month, BUT that's bare bones with no entertainment budget or anything like that). My one disclaimer is that I have *no* idea about the cost of veterinary care or cat food, so I would see if someone answers about that.
As for utilities, in general, water and trash pickup are part of your rent, in the sense that you pay x amount of rent and x amount of "charges" that include those two things as well as building and yard maintenance.
I can't speak to your insurance, since that varies widely depending on your job and the type of visa you have. We originally came on a long-stay visa in 2002, and we were required to provide proof of insurance. You are only required to get on the French system if you are planning to be here for at least 5 years.
So if you could tell me your nationality, what type of French visa you will have (if you need one), what you will be doing (occupation-wise), your French language level, what you will be bringing with you furniture wise (apartments are completely empty - not even kitchen cupboards or basic appliances), and how long you plan to stay. I can get you more specific info.
I can also help point you to where to go/what to do when you arrive (but not your cats, sorry, other than to recommend that if at all possible you get established here before bringing them, bc you will be doing a LOT of running around!).
Sorry I couldn't be more specific, and please, if I have oversimplified or explained things you already know, I don't mean to offend you, but I was giving you all the info that I have. There are a lot of variables here that if you could answer them
We love Lyon. It's a big enough city that there's always stuff to do, but not so big that it's overwhelming. Look forward to hearing from you. Check out www.biendire.com if you want to brush up on your French (it's published here in Lyon) and www.lyoneats.blogspot.com the lyon eats blog with all the substutions/conversions for American cooks living here (sorry if you aren't American, I couldn't tell, I don't think you are, but wanted to throw that out there). Good luck!
France: Adjusting to Expat Life in France:
I could go on for DAYS about this topic!
When you moved to France, what was the most difficult part of settling in there? all the paperwork to get an apartment and a bank account and the things concerning the carte de sejour and the lack of information about what is needed document wise.
How much difficulty did you have with culture shock in France? it came and went. I will say that for our first 6 months or so, at 6pm every evening, my husband and I became EXTREMELY cranky, like that was all the French we had in us and everyone could just bite us! The hardest parts of culture shock were actually on the days when I decided I liked France, because I would start feeling guilty and disloyal and un-patriotic.
What would be the best, single piece of advice you'd give to an expat
(or soon to be expat) in France? If you have any way at all to hook up with an expat in the area where you will be living, DO IT. It really depends on how long you plan to be in France. If you are short term (~2-3 yrs or less), you probably won't invest as much in language-learning and 'integration', so you'd probably be very grateful to get involved in your city's American Club. If you are here for the long haul and have kids, putting them in the local village school is the quickest way to make friends in the what's seen as an impenetrable network, the French village! Before you leave, read "French or Foe" by Polly Platt first, and if you like that kind of book, Culture Shock:France is good. If you are coming to work here, "Au Contraire" is an EXCELLENT resource for figuring out how the French office works (it's like French or Foe, but targeted more towards the work side of France).
I guess how to best handle culture shock and how it manifests itself depends mostly on why you are here. Someone who is transferred here for work isn't going to necessarily feel the same sorts of things that someone who chose to move here would feel. That isn't to say one is better or worse, more valid or not than the other, just different.
Laugh a lot, get used to feeling stupid, throw yourself on the mercy of the French people around you and you will have a much better time!
France: Musician planning to move to Lyon area within the next year:
Hello from Lyon!
I have lived in both places here - a suburb fairly close to Lyon (on the public transport line) and out in the country (not far *distance* wise from the city, but a good 45 minutes to get into town and find parking, etc) and the country village has been MUCH more difficult to integrate into. That being said, one of the things that made it so difficult was changing elementary schools, my daughter had been at the same one since age 2 1/2 and when she started at this school, it was quite hard for her (they are quite parochial out here). In the mommy network, though, the city place was more difficult. So, if you don't have kids, that may be the case. I will say that you will get stared at much more if you are out in the country, no matter what!
Good luck! I have a friend who has a blog called "Lyon Eats" and it's all about the foods and measuring and cooking stuff that you can find here. You may want to check out www.biendire.com (also Bien-dire magazine on facebook) for great resources on life here in France.
France: English builder moving to France:
it's not thought of as particularlly English, but Toulouse (Airbus factory) and Grenoble (HP/CAterpillar) have a lot of anglophones.
France: Bringing HDTV to France:
Hi Jeff, Congrats to your wife!
I can't answer this question specifically, but wanted to welcome you to Lyon! You'll like it here- it's got a lot of big-city qualities, but a sort of smaller town laid-back feeling. Feel free to email if you want some Lyon-specific advice! Hope your move goes smoothly-
France: Homeschooling Legal in France?:
I don't think it's illegal, but certainly looked strangely upon. How long would you be here and why are you coming? If you want to integrate into a village and experience real French life, I would strongly recommend against it bc the only way to meet folks as a new American in the village is through kids or dogs. You go to the school 4x a day to get your kids, and really can meet folks that way, but it takes a loooong time.
If, however, you are only coming for a year or something as a work transfer, homeschool away. :-)