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A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Old Dec 26th 2023, 4:41 am
  #31  
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

I strongly recommend you buy a copy of the 2023 tax guide produced by Connexion magazine.
It contains detailed info on the tax treatment of the different types of income, including UK bank interest. And tells you where to declare the amounts in the tax forms.

I think - as EuroTrash says - you will find it’s only worth choosing full private health insurance over the sécu if you have a huge pension. A couple of former colleagues have done this but their pensions are €120 000 per year so the €7 000 or so they pay in annual private health insurance premiums still works out cheaper than the 10% or so of
€120 000 they’d be paying for the sécu.

Re your question about social charges on UK bank interest, etc pre-age 67, I think you should err on the side of caution and assume you’ll pay over 17% in prélèvements sociaux on non-employment income of any kind.

Re. the tightness of your budget.
I’m concerned about your plan to live on
€10 000 a year for 2 people. Or have I got the figures wrong?
As others have pointed out, France is not cheap. I’ve just looked at our bank statements and in 2023 we spent €35 000.
We do not live lavishly. Our flat was paid off years ago. We drive one small van about 50 km per week. We can’t be bothered with restaurants any more because most in Strasbourg are now mediocre or downright bad. We loathe shopping. No expensive hobbies - just mountain biking on old but well maintained bikes.
But nowhere in mainland France is hot all year round and this year we were paying €1 200 per 1 000 litres of heating oil. Anything involving labour costs a lot, such as getting a chauffagiste out to fix/service the boiler.
Other utilities such as gas are expensive too. Our groceries bill has rocketed, even though we mostly shop in cheaper Germany. And are almost vegetarian!

If it is indeed your plan to live on €10 000, you could both consider getting jobs in France to tide you over for a few years. Your wife presumably speaks French so would have no problem. And I don’t know what it’s like outside Alsace but here in Strasbourg the labour market is so tight that even immigrants with zero French can get work as long as they’re not fussy. The non-French-speaking Sri Lankan husband of a friend works in a restaurant kitchen for example.

Working is also a great way to learn French.

Otherwise maybe you should consider warm, sunny cheaper countries? With an EU wife, this might be possible although I realise individual EU countries have their own minimum-income requirements for residence.

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Old Dec 26th 2023, 6:41 am
  #32  
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Hi! I stand corrected - looks like private healthcare is way too expensive.

Helen - you have our lifestyle - we're raw vegans and so don't cook, use hot water (or to wash) and don't use heating here in the UK.
Climate change requires a change in behaviour!

So, I'm hoping that we can get electricity/gas costs down to close to zero but have solar panels + battery in our budget.

We have your lifestyle :-) - we cycle and run everywhere and service our own bikes wherever possible (UK bike mechanics are way too expensive) and I've converted our bikes to battery power so we can get 50km or so in one go meaning that the car's ready to be put out to pasture.
We're about to hand back our TV license also - as the kids are close to leaving - the BBC World service is free!

We think we should be able to grow pretty much all of the food we need.

The main reason we're leaving is to get a house with a garden in the sun in the middle of nowhere so we can become self-sufficient.

The difference between the UK house price and the French house price 'll be our key income - which is why I've been asking about a pension drawdown and savings. We can top up our pension but if we can't get the money in a drawdown before 67 then there's no point!

So - we survive on £20k with 3 kids currently in the UK and so I've budgeted 20k (the amount we'll get on 2 UK State pensions) for survival in France.

Please can I ask just very approximately what the 3k Euros/month is required for?
I need to work out if there're some costs in France which we don't pay in the UK?

We'll definitely need to pay for
-- water (but are hoping to have a well on the property we buy but I'm guessing they have a standing charge even if we're not using anything),
-- have to pay a standing charge on electricity (if France has the same system as the UK in that they make you pay even if you don't use anything),
-- taxe fonciere (hopefully low as a small property in the middle of nowhere)
-- a basic mobile phone contract + internet (I think these're the same price in France vs UK)
... ... ... and then all of the taxes on savings that we've been discussing including the rules for the impenetrable social charge!

We don't have any form of insurance apart from car+buildings which don't cost so much.

So - just based on living on £20k with 3 kids - hoping that £20k in France without the kids - will be do-able?
The taxes and the charges just to be there (standing water, standing electricity) - are my main enemies ie how much money do you need just to exist in France vs the UK, where thanks to Martin Lewis (MoneySavingsExpert website) - we've optimized the cost of living down to as low as is possible here.

I've had to work in Basel - if prices in Strasbourg are similar! Still in pain from paying £7.50 for 1 really poor coffee there.

Our need to get out of the UK is mostly sun and a garden (we're choosing Gascony as it's meant to be dead) - but also (especially after all of these discussions on healthcare) - myself and my wife have worked out how to be healthy and so it's time to live that life.
I've explained to all of the MANY scientists in Cambridge how to do it - but there's an inbuilt bias in healthcare to 'drugs' (none of which really work) - and they're closed to understanding a physiological rather than a pharmaceutical approach to reverse ageing.
There's money in drugs and no money ^^^ in a healthy lifestyle.

My French is 'sufficient' though I use 'truc' a little more than is permitted.

Qu'est ce que c'est - 'c'est un truc' :-) !!

Last edited by SB_UK; Dec 26th 2023 at 7:03 am.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 7:53 am
  #33  
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Truc is indeed a very handy word.

I can’t bring myself to dissect the past year’s spending but granted, there could be quite a few Negroni cocktails in there. I do have a pretty good social circle here in Strasbourg and often go for after-work drinks. OK, yes, and sometimes I whizz off to Ireland or Paris or wherever. This year I was in Zagreb and then we went to Liguria for a couple of weeks and then there was a holiday in the Cévennes (now there’s a beautiful sunny area with lots of people doing the self-sufficiency thing. They pop down to the town for the Saturday market and smoke weed in the local café). So yes, there’s plenty of fat that could be cut from our budget if necessary.

I suppose our big expenses apart from the heating oil is the boiler service and maintenance contract (around €400), car insurance (nearly €700), house insurance (€300), charges for the building (€1500) and taxe foncière (€1500).

You know what? You should reach out to White Trash who regularly posts on this forum. Am pretty sure he’s the guy who lives a self-sufficient type life in Brittany. Although if you’ve brought up a family in Cambridgeshire on £20 k a year I doubt there’s much he could teach you!

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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:11 am
  #34  
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by Helen1964
Truc is indeed a very handy word.

I can’t bring myself to dissect the past year’s spending but granted, there could be quite a few Negroni cocktails in there. I do have a pretty good social circle here in Strasbourg and often go for after-work drinks. OK, yes, and sometimes I whizz off to Ireland or Paris or wherever. This year I was in Zagreb and then we went to Liguria for a couple of weeks and then there was a holiday in the Cévennes (now there’s a beautiful sunny area with lots of people doing the self-sufficiency thing. They pop down to the town for the Saturday market and smoke weed in the local café). So yes, there’s plenty of fat that could be cut from our budget if necessary.

I suppose our big expenses apart from the heating oil is the boiler service and maintenance contract (around €400), car insurance (nearly €700), house insurance (€300), charges for the building (€1500) and taxe foncière (€1500).

You know what? You should reach out to White Trash who regularly posts on this forum. Am pretty sure he’s the guy who lives a self-sufficient type life in Brittany. Although if you’ve brought up a family in Cambridgeshire on £20 k a year I doubt there’s much he could teach you!
Thanks for your continued contribution to this thread. To be fair the £20k is after tax not gross!
Free school, Free dentistry, Free opticians for kids.

The way we figure it - after 60 years of Hell in the rain of the UK - every day in France'll be like a holiday, we're not planning on going anywhere other than maybe shifting into Spain over Winter - there appears to be a direct route between Gascony and Valencia via Zaragoza that we're hoping to use.
Citroen has just announced a £20k electric car lopping £10k off the previous price tag, and presumably the plug-in hybrids'll follow suit - we're not factoring in a car, but electric cars are so much cheaper to run!

Can I ask whether 'charges for the building'? relate to something like 'maintenance charges' in the UK that're payable only on flats.

I think we can manage it but am scheduled to talk to multiple French tax specialists - as I'm still not really too sure what the Social charge is for pension drawdowns and interest on saving's accounts in France <67 and >67.

I think it's a little unfair given that they want us to pay tax - and everybody knows how hard it is to work through the logic of the system - that there's no helpline to get definitive information on how much we're supposed to be paying and on what.

My big problem is whether to shift savings (when we sell the house) into a pension for drawdown or keep it in a savings account?

So - if we shift money into a pension then we ???may??? have to pay social charges/income tax on anything we 'draw down'.
But if our money is in savings - then they can only really charge social charges/income tax on the interest.

The 'Social charge' (I've never heard about it until starting this thread) - is a horrid thing! French income tax is so much fairer.

I think my questions are really simple but I can't help but feel that from experience, that any professional 'll not answer the question if they can come up with a commission based investment that they'll benefit from.
If they offer free advice - then they can only do that under the expectation of capturing a customer - which will mean that they'll have become experts in 'bending' the truth.

Thanks for the advice on the Cevennes - my wife grew up in Montpellier but left at 18 so has no idea also about the 'Social Charge'.

Last edited by SB_UK; Dec 26th 2023 at 8:22 am.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:13 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by SB_UK
We'd have to rent in the UK to get healthcare if that then happens I guess.
Just having property in the UK wouldn’t mean you’d be eligible to use the NHS for free - you’d have to be resident in the UK for that.

HTH.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by Christmasoompa
Just having property in the UK wouldn’t mean you’d be eligible to use the NHS for free - you’d have to be resident in the UK for that.

HTH.
The guys above have taught me that <67 I have no choice as a French tax resident other than to pay the 17.2% charge on saving's interest which means healthcare as the French require it.
They've mentioned that although 70% of costs only are covered - as long as we don't use it (in the UK it's almost impossible to get a GP appointment) - we won't have to pay for the other 30% or need a mutuelle.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:38 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

“Charges for the building” are maintenance charges for the apartment block we live in. You’re right, you won’t have these if you’re in a house.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:38 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by SB_UK
The guys above have taught me that <67 I have no choice as a French tax resident other than to pay the 17.2% charge on saving's interest which means healthcare as the French require it.
They've mentioned that although 70% of costs only are covered - as long as we don't use it (in the UK it's almost impossible to get a GP appointment) - we won't have to pay for the other 30% or need a mutuelle.
Yep, I realise that, and it doesn’t sound as though you’d have money in the budget to be travelling back to the UK anyway, but just wanted to clarify in case using the NHS was part of your plans at all.

Good luck with the move.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 8:55 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by christmasoompa
Yep, I realise that, and it doesn’t sound as though you’d have money in the budget to be travelling back to the UK anyway, but just wanted to clarify in case using the NHS was part of your plans at all.

Good luck with the move.
Yes not enough money to be sick!
Myself + wife have spent the last 40 x 2 years in healthcare - it's all wrong.

There is no alternative to a healthy lifestyle and so it's time to start one.

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Old Dec 26th 2023, 9:24 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by SB_UK
I have no choice as a French tax resident other than to pay the 17.2% charge on saving's interest which means healthcare as the French require it.
It doesn't 'mean healthcare'; You still need to apply to, and be accepted by, CPAM, if you are to benefit from the 70%-ish reimbursement. Until you're accepted and enrolled with a social security number, you're not covered. Don't forget that healthcare isn't only pills and potions, it is also emergency care if eg you have a road traffic accident on your bike.

I think what you are not seeing in all of this, is France itself. You are looking at your house and your garden in the sun but you are not factoring in the fact of becoming a resident in a country that whilst much less socialist than it was, is still basically (arguably) governed on the principle of social solidarity and has an ethos of everybody paying in according to their means, so that everybody can benefit according to their need. The concept of opting out of society, ringfencing your savings to try and avoid contributing anything and basically looking after number one,is somewhat at odds with how France works and I think that's why you're finding the concept of social charges for example so hard to swallow. But for instance, after your first couple of tax returns if you declare a relatively low income you'll likely find yourself automatically entitled to all kinds of benefits whether you ask for them or not, for instance this last couple of years every household on a low income has automatically received a "chèque énergie" to help with fuel costs (mine was quite small but I believe some were well into three figures?). I imagine the chèque énergies are funded by social charges. I'm sure you don't intend it or probably even realise it, but the whole theme of "I want to live in France and find a way to make zero contributions to French society" and "what do I personally get in return for being obliged to make this contribution" is going to rub some people up the wrong way. I'm not saying you would be the only person in France with this attitude, but it may be something you haven't thought about and since clearly you have thought a lot about lifestyle choices, you might want to think about this too. But either way, I hope you find what you're looking for, all the best with your plans.

(EDIT - just seen your last post
Originally Posted by SB_UK
Yes not enough money to be sick!
which is my point exactly. The French system is designed to try and ensure that no member of society ever has to say that, but that involves solidarity which involves among other things social charges.)

On which note, I'll wish everybody on here all the best for 2024 x

Last edited by EuroTrash; Dec 26th 2023 at 9:31 am.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 9:34 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Thanks Eurotrash - I think the point I'm trying to get across is that we'll be on approx 25k Euro for two where the average income in France is 40k Euro so it'll be tough - and so we have to minimise outgoings in order to get by.
That's all really.
I'm more used to Income being taxed - so low% taxation on low income - and that's how French income tax works.
But the Social charge isn't 'progressive' - a few sites call it 'regressive'.

It's not really not wanting to pay - it's having to minimise outgoings so we can make ends meet.

Absolutely critical to have done our sums before making a change :-) and if I can avoid the Social charge somehow - I'll have to in view of our income.

The last 20 years of life on a forum - has featured a very definite conclusion - I'll quote from one of the groups I'm a part of (SPGB - one of the oldest extant political parties in the UK)
- and that is that Money can't result in a Socialist environment.

Here's an example of their work.
https://libcom.org/article/why-we-do...-great-britain

What I'm suggesting is that - Money is best avoided - that taxation can't support the formation of a Socialist ideal.

In actual fact - I'm not looking at avoiding tax - I'm more looking at avoiding the use of money.
But until that's possible - placing money in a place that's most tax-efficient (given our income) - is what I'm required to do.

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Old Dec 26th 2023, 9:55 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Have you considered somewhere other than France? With a wife with a French passport presumably it would be fairly easy for you to move anywhere within the EU, so somewhere with a lower tax regime may suit better (Portugal??).
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 10:27 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

That's a great suggestion - one of the members of the Cambridge Ecovillage quit us (we weren't getting anywhere because the cost of land) and went to Portugal.
It was the cheapest place he could find.

France - just the luxury of being fluent in a language - it's not so much basic communication that worries us - it's the difficulty of communicating in technical jargon with foreign administrators - they can be really difficult to follow.

I had no idea that the 'Social charge' exists at the start of this thread - if we can avoid it at least to some extent - then we'll have enough money to get by on.
Already though the prospect of paying 30% (17% social charges) on a pension drawdown <67 wipes us out - I'd only factored income tax into the equation.

That's the reason my question has boiled down to (in effect) does anybody know what the Social charge is <67 and >67 on a pension drawdown?

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Old Dec 26th 2023, 10:39 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Just to paraphrase but much more simply - from what I've learnt on this and other websites - it looks like:

saving's interest is charged at 17% Social charge >67 and <67
- but that a pension drawdown is charged at 17% Social charge <67 but only either 0% or 7% (I can't work out which) >67?

Does anybody know if that ^^^ is correct? or if there's an organisation that might know and be willing to answer?

The reason I am asking is that I'm trying to work out whether to put a lump sum into a pension or keep it in a saving's account to live on until 67.
The dramatically different tax regimes determine where the money goes as in 1 case we're only paying tax on the interest but on the other we're paying tax on the capital and 'interest'.

Last edited by SB_UK; Dec 26th 2023 at 11:05 am.
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Old Dec 26th 2023, 11:47 am
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Default Re: A Thread on Tax for simple-minded people

Originally Posted by SB_UK
They've mentioned that although 70% of costs only are covered - as long as we don't use it (in the UK it's almost impossible to get a GP appointment) - we won't have to pay for the other 30% or need a mutuelle.
A few years ago an elderly French friend was walking on a shared pedestrian and cyclist path.
He was knocked over by a cyclist and he was hospitalised with kidney damage.
If you don't have mutuelle cover then you would have to pay the difference in treatment from your own pocket.
You may also want to consider that in the future if you require to move into a care home then it is your children's responsibility to pay for your care.
It is also not true to say that you cannot get a GP appointment in the UK.
You may have to wait because of the people who already have an appointment and you have NHS111 available plus A&E.
You should perhaps Google " déserts médicaux" in France.
There are areas in France without GPs especially in rural areas.
France is suffering many of the same problems that exist in the UK.
You should also consider global warming in your research.
In our area, 20 years ago the summer temperatures were mid-20s to high 20s.
Today, it frequently reaches mid-30s to high-30s.
This has had devastating effects on agriculture in France.
The lack of water in the summer combined with the depletion of the water table has made life difficult for farmers and those relying on wells for their water supply.
HTH
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