Beware of Taxmen bearing gifts

img_0087.jpgIf my time as a freelancer in France has taught me anything – it’s not to trust the French state when it comes to handling anything to do with, er, anything.

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:

  1. I haven’t paid any income tax for years (being below the threshold for a family of five)
  2. 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!
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

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