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Excess red tape and bureaucracy in France is a myth

Helpful tax office staff and easy online forms - one Connexion reader shares his experience of completing his tax declaration in 13 minutes

man on laptop and calculator

‘I have found the system incredibly effective, with helpful employees’ Pic: Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

While filling out taxes this morning, I was reminded of Peter Manolescue’s letter to The Connexion about French red tape.

Read more: French red tape is not new, it frustrates French and foreigners alike

The entire tax process took 13 minutes. 

I timed it. 

Five of those minutes were filling out my foreign bank accounts. 

Another five were entering the addresses and amounts of crédits d’impôt for my cleaners and gardeners.

Next year is the last year this will be necessary, with the new automatic 50% payment rate.

Simple tick box

The rest was clicking through the various pages, unticking the box saying I did not own a TV (my 2021 purchase was a ridiculously large television, whereas I had previously used my laptop) and verifying my earnings and taxes paid.

Local tax office helped

When moving to France five years ago, I made an hour-long appointment with a very helpful official from the local tax office in my nearest town, who explained the system, took all my details and set me up. 

If I have questions, I call the tax office two villages away and, if necessary, make an appointment to come in for advice, as I did to understand how setting the personal tax rate (taux personnalisé) worked.

Effective state systems 

Indeed, in almost every interaction with the state since moving to rural France five years ago, I have found the system incredibly effective and with helpful employees who have been only too happy to explain how everything works.

Perhaps because I have lived and paid taxes in many countries, including the US, taking all of 13 minutes to pay my taxes online does not feel like an unacceptable amount of red tape. 

Indeed, writing this letter has taken substantially more time. I feel I may need a rest.

John Walton, by email

Share your views on an aspect of French life The Connexion, Le Grande Bretagne, 30 av. Grande Bretagne, 98000 Monaco

Please include your name and department of France or country where you live. Letters used may be edited for space and sense; the Editor’s decision is final. Letters received may be used online and/or in print.

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