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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Rather Taxing Life in France...


Work was either blessedly or cursedly slow for me in May, June and July, depending on how you look at it. This gave me some anxious moments as, once I'd committed to going forward with the work on the house and realized I would fall perilously low in France-based capital, the social security bureau of France finally got their act together and accepted my application to get into the French medical and pension system and hit me with an estimated assessment for 2010, 2011 and 2012 of €30,000.  

When I regained consciousness several days later,

I talked to my friend Innis's tax accountant, who charged me a shocking €300 to write a letter of just a few lines that I could have written myself. In it she suggested the bureau recalculate their assessment based on my actual tax returns The upside is that they've backed off and agreed to lower it to about €7000. But I was shocked to see that just the social security/pension and medical was calculated to be 45.2% of gross income. Yikes! 

Rumor has it that they hit you hard the first three years and then scale back if you continue, assuming you're not some bum who's trying to sneak into their system. That's because they assume you're a tax cheat until you've been working more than three years to prove otherwise. 

It was just my hard luck to get hit with the first three years in one fell swoop and have it happen when I was already sweating bricks about my burgeoning construction budget. But all's well that ends well...assuming the work gets finished.  

Right now I'm in the clutches of a runaway plumber who shrugs and says he'll be here Mon and shows up Thu, looks around, talks to himself for three-quarters of an hour and, before I know it, he's gone again. Sigh. My builder is livid because he's mucking up my builder's work schedule but this is France and that is just the way of things. So I must resign myself to this and keep a handy supply of the local version of Pepto Bismol.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm not talking about the sunlight leaking in through the ceiling holes. It remains to be seen whether it turns out to be that of an oncoming train but I'm trying to remain optimistic. Just the thought of actually having a halfway decent bathroom and a real kitchen with efficient appliances and a halfway decent work surface thrills me to no end. Now I just have to figure out how to stay out of debtor's prison long enough to enjoy the fruits of my contractors' labors!

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