“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. So wrote Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, and still true today, but the big question for me is “Where to pay my taxes?”
A few years after arriving in France, I wrote to HM Revenue and Customs querying if I could have the income tax on my UK pension deducted here rather than in the UK. I still have their written reply saying that provided I was permanently resident in France and a French National, I could receive my pension gross and declare it here for taxation.
So, after five years I took the family on a long and complicated bureaucratic journey culminating in our gaining French Nationality as well as retaining our British Nationality. In short I have both a French and a UK passport. I should emphasise though that the tax issue was only an incidental reason as I wanted us to have nationality anyway.
Next stage, I again wrote to HMRC enclosing copies of their letter and my nationality papers, but another setback ......... because my pension is government based, i.e. a police pension, I would have no choice than other to pay income tax in the UK. They did apologise for their previous misleading information, which I accepted graciously.
Now I appreciate that taxes are inevitable, but as my and my children’s present and future rest in France, I would prefer to pay into the French system, but until recently, I accepted that this could not be. However, the double taxation agreements have been updated and the rules now include government based pensions. As I am now a single parent, with two dependant children I would be be considerably better off under the system here.
Well, I’m taking a pause right now, so what’s stopping me?
I discovered a rather disturbing condition relating to my dual nationality, in that one must be French and no other. So, if I am to go ahead, I must renounce my British nationality at the British Consulate (£229). A fairly simple procedure, but what a big step to take. Being born and bred in Britain it would seem like severing a cord, but practically why not?
Is being British whilst living in France just a feel-good idea, or are there any practical reasons for me to hang on to the status?