Tax and Public Health Care for Australians in France

(Graeme Wood) #1

Good Morning,

My wife and I are planning to retire in France towards the end of the year and are currently conducting a comprehensive feasibility study. Of course, the two biggest issues to address are taxation and public health care. To date we have received a broad range of advice on each issue, however, much of it is conflicting and we have some difficulty with the authority of the sources.

We have determined that the most reliable information will come “from the horse’s mouth” so, to that end, we are going to France in May/June to speak with relevant and appropriate “horses”. My reason in contacting the SF forum is to ask if anyone can provide us with the names and contact information of expert comptables_ and notaires who will be able to provide us with sound, reliable advice. Ideally, they will be English-speaking as, although my wife speaks French, we don’t want to risk misinterpretation of any advice given. The perfect contacts (and this will be a stretch!) will also have experience in advising Australian expats.

As we are led to believe that French tax laws are interpreted at a regional level, we need to speak with expert comptables and notaires in both Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie, regions within which we intend to settle.

I sincerely hope that some SF members can advise accordingly as, given the gravity of relocating from Australia to France, we need to be sure that our ducks are perfectly aligned!

Thanking you in anticipation…

Graeme Wood.

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(John Scully) #2

Hi Graeme, loads of people on here will be able to give you sound advice but one avenue I’d try if I was you is seeing if you can contact people who have already made the leap from Oz to France. They’ll be the real “horses” as they will understand both side of the equation. Any French experts you meet will fully understand the French system but probably not the nuances associated with one’s country of origin. For what it’s worth I’ve never found anything here too difficult to sort out and I’m sure it’ll be the same for you.

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(Jane Jones) #3

Unfortunately we’re on the other side of France so our contacts not much use for you. However I’m not sure where you got the “french tax laws are interpreted at regional level”. Sure local tax offices do sometimes try it on, and it can be a battle to get things changed. But tax law is national, so always read the core documents to be sure.

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(Anna Watson) #4

Notaires are usually used for property purchase and sale, inheritance issues and family law. They’re not tax specialists in the wider sense, and I doubt they know the first thing about immigrant healthcare arrangements. The average French expert comptable will be immensely knowledgeable about French business structures and accounting and auditing requirements, which is a vast enough field for anyone to keep on top of, and he won’t also be an expert on international tax, You really do need to find specialists if you feel you need personalised advice.
The best sources of advice once you’re here is the horse’s mouth in the sense of the tax office and CPAM. Prior to arrival all information is easily available and usually very clearly explained on the French government websites, and also you’ll need to read whatever France-Australia tax and social security conventions are in existence. Yes there are loads and loads of commercial websites that give “advice” but many of the articles are posted purely to provide web content to attract folks to the site, some are out of date and some are ill-informed and personally I wouldn’t use any source other than public service websites for information. There shouldn’t be any significant regional variation.

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(Graeme Wood) #5

Hi John,

Thank you for your prompt response and your suggestion. However, in the discussions I have had with a few Australian expats now living in France there is a disquieting diversity in advice. I speak of obligations on the French side, not what the Australian
rules and regulations are (I am now au fait with these) thus my desire to obtain definitive advice from professionals who work with the French tax system. We don’t want to make any mistakes with this!

Regards.

Graeme.


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(Graeme Wood) #6

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your email.

Yes, I am aware that tax laws are national but it’s the “try it on” element that concerns me. After all, forewarned is forearmed!

Regards,

Graeme.


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(Graeme Wood) #7

Hi Anna,

Thank you for getting back to me; much appreciated.

My inclusion of notaires in my post was rather clumsy as I did not reference it against house purchasing which is the main reason we need to make contact with them. So basically we need to speak with notaires about property and with expert comptables about
our financial obligations under French tax laws. International tax doesn’t come into it as we simply need interpretations of and guidance with the bilateral tax agreement between Australia and France. I have read the document top to bottom several times
but need confirmation and surety that my interpretation of the agreement is consistent with local interpretation.

Thank you for your advice with respect to the French tax office, CPAM and government websites; I will follow up on these.

Regards,

Graeme.


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(Paul Bradford) #8

You are correct that French tax law can be interpreted regionally. However, rare that it is, some years ago we were the victim of it. We had rental income from the UK, which was tax paid there. Villeneuve-sur-Lot tax office decided that tax would be payable here also. Our accountants in Bordeaux said that Villeneuve were the only tax office in France to interpret in that way. We weren’t the only people to suffer this. It went to Court and the Judge, contrary to the law, sided with Villeneuve-sur-Lot. It took an appeal to reverse the decision. We got our over payment back, but it took a long time for the right decision to be made.
We have many Australians in our area, so it shouldn’t be too long before someone pops up to help.
Good luck.

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(Jane Jones) #9

Graeme, if you change the title of your post to include the word “Australian” that might gain attention from them and encourage them to pop out of the woodwork…

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(stella wood) #10

Good point Jane… I’ve done it for him … :hugs:

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(Graeme Wood) #11

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the advice. Better to err on the side of caution!

Regards,

Graeme.


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(Graeme Wood) #12

Hi Jane,

Good suggestion. Thanks. I’ll give it a shot.

Regards,

Graeme.


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(Graeme Wood) #13

Thanks, Stella.


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(stella wood) #14

Graham… I’m not sure why… but each post you make… something is attached underneath:

“Virus-free” " www.avast. com"

Have you got something switched on to do this automatically ???

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(Norman Clark) #15

The very FIRST thing you need to check is if the Australian authorities will pay your pensions into France! We fell foul of this when we reached retirement age only to be told we could not receive our pensions as their was no ‘protocol’ between France and Australia.
Although we took this up to the highest levels,the goalposts kept moving until we were finally advised that the Australian pension was no longer and automatic right (no matter how long you had paid into it) and it was now ‘means tested’ - and I am sure you know what that means but DOES include things like shares, property etc.
You need to contact Centrelink (Centrepoint?) in Tasmania and ask them what is your position if you move to France, you might get a nasty surprise. I hope not but we certainly did, and never got our pensions which as you can imagine changed our OAP situations dramatically.
The French Tax system is very clear unless supported by official documentation that tax has been paid ‘at source’ - usually the case with pensions, any and all income is taxable - and that includes shares, bank interest, or anything else.
I have heard whispers, but nothing more than that, that is also the proposed case with the UK that pensions should only be paid to those living in the UK - advocated by Iain Duncan Slime (sorry -Smith).
I do know that this exists in New Zealand already, as my French wife’s sister wanted to retire back to France, but wouldn’t get her pension if she did.
So that’s the very first thing to be checked!

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(Graeme Wood) #16

Thanks for the heads up, Stella. I think I’ve sorted it out.

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(Graeme Wood) #17

Hi Norman,

Thank you for your response.

The current iteration (as of Feb '18) is that you can take your pension overseas but you lose the Pensions Supplement payment (about
$80 / fortnight for a couple for utilities, pharmaceuticals, phone etc). But, given that these policies are built on shifting sands, they are always subject to change! I will continue to monitor.

Regards,

Graeme.

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