For those of you who need help tempering your jealousy when you imagine the sweet life in Paris, I have two words for you: French Bureaucracy.
For those of you who already live here: you know what I mean.
I’ll admit that since getting my first carte de sejour (after jumping through several flaming and very high hoops), things quieted down for awhile. I’m married to a French man now, perhaps everything will be alright, I comforted myself late at night. The ordeal is over; calm your battered soul.
Proof that thoughts can be dangerous – how could I have been lulled into such a false sense of security? French bureaucracy will never be “over.” Accept it as a fact of life.
So the issue this time? Property taxes. Nope, don’t mind paying them for where I actually live. Yep, have a problem paying them for a place I don’t.
We were hit by a double whammy recently and the full web of problems keeps unfurling.
We received our taxe d’habitacion for the 11th where we live. Ok, fair enough. Except hmm, that’s funny, didn’t we always have a monthly transfer set up so we wouldn’t be hit all of a sudden with the full sum to pay? And is this normal that we’re paying 10 times what we paid at our old place? And hmm, that’s almost our correct address, but not quite. Isn’t the address we’re being taxed at actually a business…which might explain why we’re paying 10 TIMES MORE?
No matter, we can sort this out.
Except hmm, why have we also received a notice saying that we’re paying in the 19th…which we left in 2008? And why did the automatic transfer work there…where it needn’t have worked? Because um, WE DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE.
So we’ve already paid for the residence where we don’t live and the payment for the place we do live didn’t work?
That’s about it.
Go to the 11eme, who has by now added a 10% late penalty fee.
“Not our fault, it’s the 19ths,” they say. “And oh yeah, fill out these forms.”
OK, fill out some forms, go to the 19th.
Tax office in the 19th: “We don’t deal with these problems, you must go to the other office in the 19th.”
OK. Other tax office in the 19th: “You must prove that you no longer live in the 19th.”
OK. How about this contract and lease on our new apartment in the 11th?
-No, that doesn’t work.
OK, how about our insurance on the new apartment plus the fact that we canceled the insurance on the old apartment?
OK, how about the fact that EVERY SINGLE official document from the Social Security to the address on our payslips is the 11th?
OK, how about the fact that you HAVE our new address because you sent us this tax notice at the correct address?
So what exactly counts as proof to you?
-“The etat de lieux” (a piece of paper that says in what condition you left the old apartment).
Um, the non-official paper that our landlord didn’t give to us?
Ok, but isn’t this ton of proof that we live in the 11th count for something?
-No, you could still be living in the 19th.
Even though everything says we live in the 11th?
-Yes, you could live in both the 11th and the 19th.
Do you think most people – especially at our income level which you can see very well because you’re the friggin’ tax people– move to a new place to also live in an old place?
These are just a few of the conversations we’ve been having recently.
The first answer’s always no? Prove a negative? Present a paper that is not in your possession? Yes, this is the French Bureaucracy that I know!
Special thanks to hubby for doing all of the running around. I hunt down old papers, write letters, plan strategy, offer moral support. But I’ve had enough dealings with FB to know that my accent and my looks only make things worse.
We’re going to Seville tomorrow – our heads hurt, we need a break. Wish us luck with the FB upon our return. See you next week!