Vous avez raison!

They are not words you are likely to hear very often from a Frenchman, let alone the Hôtel des Impôts, however the power you feel when you do is exhilarating.

Let me explain, my husband and I own an old Burgundy town house, which at 90m2 per floor x 3 is a tad too large for us (well, the mortgage is anyway) so when we moved in, we renovated it into 3 prospective apartments. We live downstairs – the tenants live upstairs and the attic is totally empty and uninhabitable for now – even by Burgundy standards

Another 'habitable' house

After our first year of renovation, we visited the Hôtel des Impôts to complete the dreaded H2 (this a form you have to complete when you build or extend a property so the government knows how much more tax to charge you) See here for more info in English or full details here in French

Well, as you can imagine, I had a very complicated time explaining that our 210m2 habitable house was now just 2 apartments of 90m2 each. ‘Mais Madame, c’est impossible’, houses do not shrink. Well this one has, we’ve destroyed the ghettos in the attic and now there are just 2 apartments, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor – and to be honest, whether or not the ground floor is ‘habitable’ is questionable but I am prepared to concede this point for now.

A vast improvement

Begrudgingly, they accepted my explanation and we duly received 3 taxe foncière bills the following year, one for apartment A, one for apartment B –and one for the double garage just in the name of Monsieur – quite appropriate really. For all those who think that their taxe foncière is a little expensive, our taxe foncière for the garage alone was 270€, no we don’t live in central Paris, we live at the edge of a small Burgundy market town, population 6000! They do have good fireworks on the 14th July though, apparently paid for by parking fines throughout the year – and my taxe foncière.

So having set the scene for the first of my many visits to the Hôtel des Impôts, I come to the topic of my most recent (set of) visits. The CSG/CRDS, this is not actually a tax, it is a social charge/contribution, on earned and unearned(?) income and goes toward towards paying the French national debt. This particular avis was attached to our Avis des Impôts and I assumed it was for the income derived from our rental property. I was a little confused, as due to the fact that we had spent an astronomical sum renovating said apartment, we are allowed to write off a percentage of the debts against the income, so why would we have to pay an additional tax? The very nice lady at the Hôtel des Impôts gently pointed out that this was a tax on our gîte – gîte, we don’t have a gîte – just an expensive garage!

The garden still needs a bit of work if it's to be considered a gite!

Oh, then it must be for your business as a micro enterprise, umm, I’m autoentrepreneur and I pay my fully inclusive charges every month. Ahh, but that doesn’t include CSG/CRDS, oh yes it does, oh no it doesn’t – you know that feeling, you are either in a Christmas pantomime or you are fighting a losing battle. I retired gracefully! Eventually Madame Functionary conceded that if I could bring in proof from the RSI that I had already paid this tax, they would look at it again.

Christmas came and went, I returned to the Hôtel des Impôts and unfortunately was directed to the same lady. I approached her with a sinking heart, – she remembered the impertinent foreigner that tried to tell her her job. I gave her all my internet declarations and all the AE pieces of paper along with the officialURSAAF booklet that listed what was included in the charges paid by an autoentrepreneur, with the part about CSG/CRDS being included highlighted. Apparently, this was merely documentation, not proof that it was included. It seems one of the requirements to be a functionary in France is a vivid imagination and the ability to come up with wildly impossible statements at the drop of a hat. Madame Functionary was doing very well and by now I should have been scurrying out of the building never to return.
As we stared at each other across the desk – with me desperately wishing I was really fluent in French, I suggested she phone someone else for clarification. She then told me to wait and went to talk direct to ‘le service’ and disappeared for over half an hour, then returned with a nonchalant ‘Vous avez raison’ – wow!
The ‘proof’ was on the back of the first and only, paper declaration we made, it lists what is included in the payment – including CSG/CRDS. The error had arisen due to the fact we had not opted for theprélèvement libératoire, so we are listed at the Impôts as a micro enterprise but not AE, according to her.
The moral of the story is that you should always check that a bill is correct before you pay it, don’t assume that the authorities are right, especially with new rulings, e.g. autoentrepreneur. I did pay it but now have a new avis, saying ‘0’ is due and the reimbursement should be with us by next week. What a happy ending!![:-D](upload://iKNGSw3qcRIEmXySa8gItY6Gczg.gif)

So right about checking your bills- this year's 'Avis d'Imposition' was ridiculously low & we noticed that they'd missed my husband's wages off it completely :0 So we went & rectified it with them. But have now received the 'Taxe d'habitation' based on the same wrong amount.( I was wondering why on earth we received a mid-month windfall in our account from an unknown source; it was them reimbursing what they mistakenly think we have overpaid! )So now ANOTHER visit to the tax office ASAP to reexplain & pay it back. I am tempted to save it for Friday to see if the 'song & dance guy 'will be in there again (!)

Congratulations Tracy.

The interpretation is often different from Department to Department, office to offoce and fonctionairre to fonctionairre.

Trust me it wasn't easy - it took a lot of research and a determination that I was right! It does help to be anal and fairly fluent in French though.

Shame I don't have the same effect on my husband when I say it's about time we finished the ground floor apartment as well. It's probably the fact that he is a carpenter and spends all day fixing up other peoples houses instead.

What a coup! Please write a handbook on how to stand a knuckleheaded functionary down forthwith. We usually 'win' but it usually means running between several offices and setting several functionaries with a different take on our matter off against each other by getting them to phone, write to and fax (the last people who do that on this planet) each other and letting them argue, confound each other and eventually get rid of us in order to get their peace and quiet back.

well done Tracy! My last run in with les impots took 3 visits to 3 different offices and endless letters to sort out. You made it look easy! Well done!