This rule should be applied even when things appear to be going your way. Today, I’m faced with one of those situations which at first hand appears to be quite a stroke of luck: a 509 EURO tax rebate has magically appeared in my bank account!
Now, if I had not been resident in France for as long as I have I’d already put on my dancing trousers and be planning on how to spend this sudden cash windfall, however, there are a few things to consider before ordering that new TV:
- I haven’t paid any income tax for years (being below the threshold for a family of five)
- The taxman has rebated the money into an account that I haven’t used since I was last self-employed under the EI (travailleur independent) statute. i.e. he shouldn’t even know that the account exists!
- This has happened before and back then it was most definitely an error. (My taxe d’habitation was rebated to the tune of 700 EUR in July – but I was then billed 800 EUR in November for arrears.)
- I don’t have any dancing trousers.
Which leads me to the conclusion that I should probably not celebrate just yet. However, I won’t be calling the taxman to double check on their calculations, after all why highlight an error – if it is an error – if you’re up on the deal?
Though this has made me realise that my old bank account should probably be closed toute-de-suite. For, although money may magically appear in the account from time to time, I have heard that old Direct Debit and Standing Orders can magically reappear years after they were cancelled – such is the reliability of the French social contributions system!
In theory, if they haven’t asked for the money back by Christmas then it is mine to keep … maybe. With the French financial system working to a two year timetable it is entirely possible that just before Christmas 2017 a bill for 509 EUR plus two years interest will land on my doormat.