Ooo errr what mucking fuddle!

Well, the driving license issue and the Carte Vitale are all sorted so it is clearly time for something else to hiccup. I wouldn't call this a hiccup, more like a great ruddy belch!

One has received this morning a late penalty notice for the tax year ending 2011 from HM Revenue & Customs...totalling...wait for it...1200 GBP....yes that's right 1200GBP! I don't think I've ever declared that much as income, never mind paid fees for that amount!

So, a little background for you all...whilst sorting out my previous driving license issue, I checked my Gateway account to see if there was anything going on...I niticed a late penalty fee of 100 GBP outstanding which surprised me.

I would point out, that I have no UK income since December 2009. I duly filled in my tax form in 2010 and again in 2011 stating that I had left the UK permananently and that I was no longer receiving any income etc, etc. I didn't receive anymore reminders and so forgot all about anything HMRC related.

I duly rang the helpline, (3 times). I spoke to 3 different people who gave me 3 different answers to the same question. Luckily the third lady was extremely helpful and told me she would update my situtation and close my file, whilst getting the 100GBP late penalty charge revoked. Apparently, when I filled in my 2010 and 2011 forms, I did not state clearly enough that I was not earning in the UK anymore....I thought the big fat zero in the total columns and the fact that I stated in the notes that I had permanently left the country were sufficient but apparently not.

So I put the phone down, thinking the problem was solved until this morning when I received my lovely letter....

My question is where do I go from here? Not only do I not have 1200GBP to give them, but I'm not even earning anything at the moment and my unemployment benefit has just run out. Do I have to pay this fine? What is the worst that they can do to me??

Many thanks for any advice :)

Jo I really hope you dont worry over this....I am, these days, more bulldog than ever. Every person I speak to on the phone I want their full name and title, every email is whatever they tell me, I have someone to attribute it to.....or an email. Most tax offices in the UK are pretty poor in terms of are in the clear. Forget all about them.

I have had the exact same problem. I was in hospital for 2 months and then recovering for several, back here in France , in 2010. I became disabled officially in 2011 and in the meantime, wrote to the revenue UK apologising for not filing a return, explaining that I could not pay the penalty, had had no UK income for 2 years and was too ill in 2010 to file a return. They said by phone it was all sorted and then continued to send me bills and warnings.

I've lost interest in it all. I can only do so much and I can only worry about it so much until I make myself ill again with stress. So I say bring it on. Here I am. If they want to come over here and take me back over a hundred quid, do me for tax evasion or fraud or whatever they decide to call it and lock me up and feed me, then give me a place to live when they let me out, they can. It will save me having to pay a ferry ticket and it can't be any worse than staying in a UK hospital ward.

Besides, the irony of it all comparing our situation with Starbucks, Barclays, Boots, Facebook, and so forth, all avoiding billions legally, just makes me smile.

Seems to me like the French government is acting like the kid with the ball not letting anyone else play. I am sick of their incessant taxes on add to our joy we received yet another tax demand for yet another 5k...its endless! We have a council in Newbury which is displaying decidedly French habits. Parking here is stupidly expensive, which has resulted in many shops packing up and moving on....and now the few odd places to park in Newbury along the various roads, is going to be charged for as well.

Why didnt Mr Cohen's intelligent ideas filter through to these jobsworths, when he opened his supermarket, Tesco's...he piled it high and sold it cheap. If you work on the same basis with taxes, parking etc. you would soon realise if you want to stimulate the market you dont penalise people for parking in town, cos if you do they dont use the shops, the shops go bust and the council doesnt get the business taxes or shop rentals....and in France you dont tax shopkeepers to the enth degree and make employing staff so expensive so that all these expenses are added to the cost of the items in the shops and makes it neccessary for us all to buy on line! makes me so very bl**dy mad! idiots the lot of them. Now I am going to have a cup of tea and calm down.....

We know vide greniers specialists. A different member of the family does their quota of two, which given the size of the average French family....

I am going to do some research on the author of the article one certain Rene Perez. Page 5 of the Telegramme today. I agree that the whole thing seems very far fetched and would almost certainly be caught by competition legislation. However the French love flying these kites and then a few weeks later the whole thing is quietly dropped. I do know hoever that the tax authorities on both sides of the Channel have teams looking at Ebay sellers. You have to bcareful with only selling at two vide greniers a year as well, but i suspoect that there are transgressors. I notice the same vendor at several!

Good grief, they must be mad. If you have a bank account out of the country and they snoop on that then they fall foul of international law, if they try to control the parcels that the companies sending will no doubt put in plain cover, then they will have conflict with the international postal union. Then they have to make it an import duty since they cannot impose a purchase tax on something bought in another country, which flies in the face of the free trade principles of the EU. If enough people take this to the European court to challenge then yet another army of functionaries will be required to deal with that. In the end France could be very out of pocket and highly embarrassed. I shall simply have everything sent to family in Switzerland to bring when one or the other pops over for a visit. Alternatively, I shall ask my sister to order things in the UK for delivery here.


Good stuff- and that you didn't have weak heart!


I don't want to ruin everybody's day even more but the French are now seriously thinking of applying an Internet Purchase tax on all internet purchases at the point that the order is made in order to allow them to raise funds to apply to safeguarding local businesses in France. Now if like me you live on a hill top in Brittany and you want to order an annual supply of Indian ingredients and there is nowhere decent in France let alone within 200k it all seems pretty incredible. Naturally an army of functionaries will be employed to police this and no doubt they will insist on snooping on your general computer activity at the same time. They haven't mentioned mail order, carrier pigeons or invisible ink yet. They would make vendors responsible for paying the tax no doubt. The whole thing sounds too fantatstic to be true but its not 1 April and it's there, a whole page, in my newspaper this morning. Could be why M and S won't let you order off their UK website for delivery to France any more.

Ok ready for this guys.....The late penalty notice was a mistake and is actually not valid as my account has been closed....PMSL!!! Happy Monday :)

Hi Hilary,

Where abouts in Aquitaine are you going to be?

The hotel website is

I have sent you a friend request so we can chat more, if you need any help :)

Woohoo - I'm liking the sound of that especially as it is entirely late penalties. They actually gave me a rebate in 2010 as I had overpaid before leaving the country...


Well my bill is entirely late penalty charges for not having filled in my tax form, the very same one that I received no reminder for and was told that I didn't need to complete as I had no UK income since 2009. In any case I will call them tomorrow and see what can be done over the phone. Thankfully, and as always, everyone on here has given plenty of ideas of how to solve the problem, so I shall just work through all the solutions until I find one that works :)

Hi Hilary,

Firstly, I live permanently in Lourdes and run a hotel so you can come and visit whenever you like.

As for the rest, I have been working the seasons for the last three years, basically 8 month contracts and then 4 months unemployed or doing fill in work. For every month you are employed in France you "earn" unemployment BUT you have to work a minimum of four months to qualify to claim this. You then earn a daily amount for a certain number of days based in your income and the number of months you have worked. Unfortunately last year was a very bad year for tourism so I only did a four month season. (Luckier than quite a few here who were laid off after 2 months and therefore entitled to nothing). This means that I have run out of entitlement and have had to apply for a solidarity payment (Allocation de Solidarité Spécifique or ASS), until I start work. Failing that I can apply for a different solidarity benefit in it's place (Revenue de Solidarité Active or RSA).

After three years of CDD (Contrat à durée determiné) in the same company, you retain the same rights as a permanent employee but your unemployment benefit is reduced to say around 65% of your wage instead of the higher rate, say 88%. (The percentages are just examples for the difference in what you are entitled to. I don't know the exact amounts).

I have just had to submit 11 years of work history and financial information to request the solidarity payment which is around 15.90€ a day. To claim the higher level of unemployment benefit, I just had to give them my last pay slip, work certificate and fill in the forms and that equates to nearly double the solidarity payment.

Good plan Graham.

N'est-ce pas Brian ;)

This highlights the dilemma of residency for income tax vs residency for CGT if you want to sell property.

I had a similar problem - Australia vs UK. Another area where residency may count is liability for UK council tax.