French nationality

Old May 22nd, 2012, 04:15 AM
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Agree that if you plan to retire in a country, it will be seriously important to be able to communicate in the language of the country. You will be receiving letters/contracts from various utility companies, landlords, government agencies, etc. It will be vital to be able to understand them and be able to respond effectively (both verbally and in writing).

All carte de sejour paperwork will, naturally, be in French. You will be required to have all U.S. documents (needed for your carte de sejour and the annual renewal of said carte) translated by an official translator. It is important to be able to understand the translation.

Once resident in France, you will be required to file a French tax return. You will not likely have to pay any French income taxes as you will not work in France, but all worldwide income must be reported once you are a legal resident of France. All tax forms are, naturally, in French. I don't find the process complicated, certainly not when comparing to U.S. standards, but you will need to understand it and complete it. If you do not, you will, eventually, receive a letter from the French fisc folks asking why you have not completed a return. Of course, you will still have to complete your U.S. return as that will never go away, the U.S. requires it.

I don't mean to sound negative, but I can't imagine anyone living in Paris on your income, by choice. As some other folks have said, you might find life more possible in a small village in the countryside of France. Even then, with health insurance costs and living costs, I don't think you'll get a VISA. Part of the VISA process is signing off on all kinds of paperwork stating you understand you cannot take part in the French healthcare system for a minimum of 5 years and you cannot take a job for a minimum of the same amount of time. You will have to sign these documents EVERY year for 5 years (when renewing your carte each year).

After being resident in France for 5 years, you can APPLY for permanent residency (10 year carte de sejour). It is not a 'given' that you will be approved. The process takes anywhere from 2 to 5 months, depending on which Mairie/Prefecture you are applying to and at what time of year.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:03 AM
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1994, you don't sound negative -- or, if you do, it's because you're trying to help me, and what I'm trying to do, in your experience and considered judgment, is next to impossible. There's no point in acting like Mary Poppins (or Pollyanna!) with my questions if that's not giving me accurate or honest information. I'm not going to say I love hearing these reactions to what is a dream I've had for a long time, but who would, after all? I'd rather have the truth, even if it makes me feel sad, than be given pretty lies that won't help me in the long run.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up. As I've said, I'm only a little over one month short of 62; that's barely over middle age! And since I plan to live to be 100, even if I don't get to Paris until I'm in my 70s, I still have many good years to enjoy and appreciate it.

Also, as I've said before, I can put this time to good use, improving my French and doing more research on health insurance, et al. With regard to the first, I discovered a book last night that I didn't know I had (yes, I have *that* many books -- so many I often can't find specific books I know I have) called "Le Francais Pratique. It seems to be the first of two or more volumes because it has "I" on it. It's very old -- last printing, 1972. But I'm going to look online to see if I can rustle up volume II (or however many there are). It looks like an extremely useful book -- the only disadvantage I see is that there is no answer key for the exercises in it -- so I can't be sure my answers will be correct. But I'll try it anyway, and maybe if I can find the other volumes, one of those will have the answer key.

One thing I am reasonably sure I have on my side is that I will NOT have to file a U.S. tax return, no matter where I go. I haven't filed a tax return since 2008 -- my income isn't high enough. I of course can't say if I'd have to file a tax return for the French government, if I move there -- I obviously don't know enough about French tax law.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:07 AM
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France and the U.S. have a bilateral agreement to avoid double taxation. Since the U.S. requires filing and taxation of U.S. citizens, they are exempt from French income tax -- but not the other taxes.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:29 AM
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Thanks, kerouac.

And re the book I mentioned just now -- I found "Le Francais Pratique" online, at Abebooks, but the seller doesn't indicate if it's I or II. I sent her an email; hopefully she'll answer soon.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:35 AM
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Aarrggh! I keep on forgetting to mention: I'm reading "Sarah's Key" right now. It's the June selection for my book club. I'd heard of it but didn't know much about it beyond that it was about the Holocaust. I didn't know it takes place in France, so that's an interesting coincidence. Also, here's something else that tickled me: One of the characters in the book (actually, two -- they're a couple) lives in the 18th arrondissement!

I just thought that was a funny coincidence. I will happily accept any little funny coincidences that I can choose to see as good omens that I can get.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 11:55 AM
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Maybe you'll meet a French gentleman in the near future Then you can apply for a long stay visa for spouses of a French national. It's much easier to get. That's the visa my American husband got to move to France.

Maybe you can marry Kerouac...?
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:03 PM
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I think she'd have to get in line to marry kerouac.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:16 PM
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"Maybe you'll meet a French gentleman in the near future "

Or maybe I'll win the lottery. (It could happen!) Or maybe I'll make a lot of friends here and someone will know someone who knows someone who's willing to give me a couch to sleep on until I find a place.

Or maybe... maybe... my brother, who is a Canadian citizen, but who also lived in Europe (Germany) for a year, will want to go back and we can go together and help each other financially.

Life is mysterious. That much I've learned after six decades of it. You never know what will happen, or what can.

"Maybe you can marry Kerouac...? "

LOL! Well, I like what I glean about his political views.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:17 PM
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"I think she'd have to get in line to marry kerouac."

Oh, whoa! Okay.....
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:20 PM
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"Well, I like what I glean about his political views"
See...? I knew you were made for each other!
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:43 PM
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"France and the U.S. have a bilateral agreement to avoid double taxation. Since the U.S. requires filing and taxation of U.S. citizens, they are exempt from French income tax..."

Kerouac, We have lived in France for three years and file in both countries, France and US. I think we need to poke at this to see if we really need to file in France. However, we could be filing in France because some of our retirement income is from UK pensions which we declare in France and not in UK. Will talk to our tax person.

If you're right, and I bet you are, then I have been wrong. However, I am fairly sure France requires reporting on worldwide income, even if, due to reciprocity, little or no income tax is paid.

Thanks for bringing this up.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Katkat... My ex mother in law was French and moved to Canada shortly after the war. She met a Polish man, they married and had a son. When that son was 27 he decided he wanted his citizenship and indeed, he got that citizenship, which is how I then got mine. In our case, the gov't applied the rules from the year the child was born, which are very different from the rules that apply today.
It is possible you may qualify for citizenship.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:55 PM
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PS a lot of very bad, very inaccurate tax advice, folks. This forum would do better to stick to travel related questions.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 12:57 PM
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Regarding taxes. We've been in France for nearly 13 years. We are Americans. We went to the Centre des Impôts and discussed what was required in France. They told us we were required to file a French return as we are French resident. We are also required to file a U.S. return. Most of what we pay in the U.S. is off-set by the tax treaty, but not all of it. Our French accountant has advised us the same as the Centre des Impôts. So, we file in both places.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 01:01 PM
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I would agree with Phread in that any tax advice should be obtained from the relevant tax authorities in BOTH countries. It is a very important subject and folks need to know the rules before moving anywhere.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Thanks, 1994. We are doing the same thing.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 01:29 PM
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It is incredible the information you read on forums regarding taxes....

Yes, Cath, we are following the rules.
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 02:09 PM
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And, with FATCA being put into place, WATCH OUT !!!
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Old May 22nd, 2012, 02:53 PM
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"It is possible you may qualify for citizenship."

I suppose it doesn't hurt to find out for sure. Asking won't leave me worse off, and it might leave me better. I'll give the French consulate a call.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 01:34 AM
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An American Citizen resident in France is liable to pay French tax and as tax rates in France are higher than the USA and allowances much fewer, you will end up paying more. The double tax treaty between the USA and France means you avoid being double taxed, but if your French income tax assessment is higher, you have to pay the additional French tax assessed.
However, income tax is not the killer in France, it is the incredibly high social security costs, that are even payable by retirees.
Since 2007 it has become very difficult if not impossible for a non EU citizen to obtain permanent residency in France, unless through marriage, ancestry, or having highly specialised job skills that are on an official list of occupations where there is a recognised shortage.
In the current economic enviroment, there is a big political backlash in France against inward immigration (like the USA!)and the French government has tightened entry requirements for retirees as they are concerned about health tourism.
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