Archive for the ‘Working in France’ Category

Finally starting to work on the book: Living in France without a TV crew

We’ve been meaning to settle down to write our book for years now but have only just gotten going properly on the initial stages of it over the last week or so.

Our working title is that of the original incarnation of this blog: Living in France without a TV crew. We figured that we needed at least a working title to focus our attention on what material would go into the book and what wasn’t really that relevant.

We’ve even got a very broad provisional structure:

  1. Choosing a place in France, of which we’ve nothing formally written yet;
  2. Moving in which’ll likely draw mainly on the articles here from 2004-2005;
  3. Some chapters looking in more detail at various aspects eg learning the language, education, etc.;
  4. Moving back, which raised more issues than you’d expect.

To see what we’d already written, I’ve been pulling together the relevant posts from 2004 through to 2009 which, even after loads of deleting, amounts to 322 pages and 180,000 words ie we’ve loads to work with.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Getting caught up with the accounts

Once we get into the summer season, there’s really no chance of us keeping up with anything that isn’t essential to the day to day running of the place and one of those “non-essential” things is keeping the accounts up to date.

It’s not that we’ve no idea what money is coming in and going out as we go along, just that the formal accounts don’t get kept up to date over the summer period. This year is particularly bad as there was a lot of additional work needing doing with our UK side of the business and so it’s really only now that we’re getting settled down to get the finances up to date.

Naturally, that long period since the relevant transactions makes life more difficult as it’s that much easier to lose the odd document along the way of course and getting the whole lot into a sensible sequence takes a whole lot longer than it would do if we were keeping up to date as we went along.

Having said that, overall it seems to take us a lot less time to do when we do the whole lot in bulk. This morning we went through the majority of the receipts over a couple of hours for instance whereas doing it a little bit at a time would consume a lot more time when you added it all up. In fact the biggest downside is that the whole thing feels much more like a chore when you’ve a big heap of documentations to work through than when you’ve only a couple of bills to mark off.

Fingers crossed, we’ll have tidied it all up by next week and then it’s off to the accountant with it.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

How bad can an accountant be?

I used to think that there was a limit as to how bad an accountant could be. After all, they’re members of professional organisations which aim to keep standards high and strike off those who fall too far below the accepted norm.

Perhaps that’s true elsewhere in the world, but not in France.

Our “accountant”, for want of a better word, still hasn’t finished the 2006 accounts despite telling us just about every month since April that they’d be ready “next week”. We gave them a couple of weeks, called and were told that they needed just one more piece of information to complete them.

Once supplied, by magic another piece of information was now missing.

We were even told last week that the accounts would absolutely definitely be completed by Monday. Yup, one more piece is missing. Just one this time: a single cheque.

So, we’re off to see them tomorrow.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The accounts are almost up to date now…

We are just rubbish at choosing accountants. It’s not that we don’t ask for recommendations because we do.

It’s that the first accountant recommended as “brilliant” to us turned out to be fine when they did the work but they just never got around to it with us.

The second came with an even more glowing recommendation and indeed she was that good. What she didn’t tell us was that she was going to be leaving the firm just a matter of months later and that the firm (apart from her) left quite a bit to be desired.

In fact they were so bad that when she left they never even bothered to open the files on her clients that she, of course, left behind. Net effect of that was that we (ie all such clients I imagine) only found out about her departure when we started getting threatening letters from the tax people saying that they were going to apply all kinds of penalties.

That was in September of last year. They finally completed the 2005 accounts just a few weeks ago (ie two years late) and still haven’t completed the 2006 accounts which is, of course, bringing in more penalty notices and quite laughable demands for money.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Is it really surprising that France is none too entrepreneurial?

One of the chief characteristics of French tax and social security administration is that when you start out in business they send you bills based on an estimate of what an established business would be earning, not what a start-up would be bringing in.

Although typically a new business will earn very little after start-up expenses in its first year, it will typically receive bills for thousands of euros no matter how small it might be. Clearly that’s something of a drag on start-ups in France and the effect is that considerable chunks of business activity are done on the black ie without registration. This, of course, helps nobody in that the businesses which do register have to shoulder the tax burden for those that don’t which forces many down the unregistered route or alternatively into bankrupcy, neither of which is beneficial for the country.

Take for instance Marcus who’s done some calculations as to what tax a start-up could expect to be paying in the first couple of years. His example was of a business making EUR 5000 per year right from the start and includes just the social security contributions (ie there would be addition taxes). Year one bill: EUR 4914, year two 2780, year three 2183 ie over 98% tax on the first years income.

Even if you change the parameters of the calculations to reflect zero income in the first two years followed by EUR 5000, the bill for the second year is EUR 4080! Still, at least in the third year you get a refund of EUR 281 in that case, which you could put towards the wind-up costs of your business.

Is it any wonder why the black economy in France is so large?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.