back to article France gives les citoyens the right to cock up official paperwork

France has reportedly passed a law to allow hapless citizens the right to make admin screwups in their dealings with the state – and not have those mistakes held against them. The new law, part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s manifesto, will allow Frenchmen and women to make mistakes when dealing with the authorities. It …

  1. jonha
    Headmaster

    "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

    If you think you have to impress us with your foreign language competence, pas de problème!

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

      Mais monsieur, avec ce pédantisme vous nous gâtez vraiment.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

      Peut-être que tous les commentaires sur cet article doivent être en français?

      1. Spanners Silver badge

        Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

        Parce que c`est drole.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

          Dear Editor.

          If God had meant us to speak French he would have put those little accent things on our keyboards.

          Yours Colonel etc retd

          1. MiguelC Silver badge

            Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

            Mais le mien il les a, ces accents, je vous l’assure... peut-être pas le vôtre, mais ne fautez pas les internautes bien fournis en matière de claviers ;)

            1. psychonaut

              Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

              mon aéroglisseur est plein d'anguilles

              1. Alister Silver badge

                Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

                That's one elver problem, right there...

          2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

            Sir,

            As an owner of an Awerty keyboard, I can tell they do.

            (Also I'm thankful I touch type as I'm crap at French)

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

        Biensur :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    much needed law, mon ami

    Revenue taxes, those days, after the whole Hollande debacle, elevated the declaration process to the rank of difficulty of going to Mars, for those with "particular" situations (like, having any revenue abroad for example).

    In last March, with other colleagues, we spent probably 10 hours total to discuss which forms and cells to fill up ! And we've been doing this for years !

    In another story, my daughter has had only a temporary driving license for now one year, waiting for the final one from préfecture. Did I mention the temporary license expires after 4 months, after which you can be fined by Gendarmerie, reporting to ... préfecture ?

    Yes we hate their guts. Vermin.

  3. ThatOne Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Meh

    Marketing spin. The article in The Local insists heavily on how "revolutionary" and "dramatic" those changes are, but the examples given don't back the hype. Apparently the administration will just refrain from biting your head off on top of fining you, that's all.

    You'd still better address civil servants with "August Sir, loyal and righteous, whose benevolence is majestically manifest, may you in your magnanimity excuse the lowly worm I am for insulting your eyes and ears with my presence." if you don't want to star in a Kafka novel.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      You'd still better address [French] civil servants with "August Sir, loyal and righteous, whose benevolence is majestically manifest, may you in your magnanimity excuse the lowly worm I am for insulting your eyes and ears with my presence." if you don't want to star in a Kafka novel.

      This is in contrast to the way in which certain people, wishing to make a point, address British civil servants:

      "You, sir, remain my most humble and obedient servant,

      Blimp, Col. (Retd)"

      I was particularly taken by a method recommended by the late Willie Rushton for dealing with tax offices. He actually did two things:

      1) He would send letters with a reference number on them that apparently increased by one every time he sent a letter. He would then occasionally jump a number, then refer to the non-existent letter in subsequent letters e.g. I answered your question fully in letter 'x'.

      2) It was possible to choose which tax-office dealt with your affairs, and you could change which office this was. He would opt to move the handling of his affairs to a new office, then get the offices to contact each other looking for lost paperwork.

      It was his way of getting back at 'the man'. He was quite the subversive in his way.

  4. Daedalus Silver badge

    "ne-c’est pas?"

    C'est une blague, n'est-ce pas?

    1. Bill M

      Re: "ne-c’est pas?"

      What's "une blague" ?

      I ain't got a clue whether it is an obscenity or whether you are jesting.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: "ne-c’est pas?"

        What's "une blague" ?

        Eet eez, how you say, "A joke" ne-c’est pas?

        Oh how we are laughing at zee silly Eengleesh...

    2. DNTP

      Re: "ne-c’est pas?"

      Sorry, my hovercraft is full of eels.

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: "ne-c’est pas?"

      Ha! He corrected the text of the article.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tax returns

    There's always been a certain tolerance for 'minor' mistakes, like getting two numbers swapped, as long as the error was < 10%. I remember French friends telling me that if I had to enter a salary number like, say, 32910 on a tax form I should write it as 32190. If I got audited, sorry monsieur, silly mistake, I'll correct it. No problem, no fine. 23910 would have been pushing my luck too far.

    1. John R. Macdonald

      Re: tax returns

      So many people were pulling that trick on tax returns the rule was changed several years ago and the tolerance is now 5% maximum..

      1. sean.fr

        Re: tax returns - auto filled

        The basic French income tax returns are fine, as they are automatically filled. They have access to your employers payments and your bank accounts. I tried not declaring £100 in oversees account, but they gently suggested that I had not declared everything. I have closed my Uk account to avoid the paperwork...

        Tax habitation (council Tax/city taxes ) is messy. The tax on garages depend on the distance from house. My wife pays tax on a office that does physically exist. You can get a discount depending on the type of water heater you install. Plenty of scope to get it wrong.

        Income Tax is collected after the tax year closes. So when you retire, or become unemployed in 2018 you have a big tax bill from when you were working in 2017.

        The UK PAYE system is better, as it is calculated by your employers payement system as you go, and the government has been paid before you get it. The government issues a tax code so your employer can do the calcuation withot seeing the details of your life. France is planning to move to the UK system. The transition will be interesting as we can not pay two years IncomeTax in

        one year.

        1. psychonaut

          Re: tax returns - auto filled

          in the uk if you do self assessment, and they reckon you will have reasonably large bill for the next year, you have to make payments on account up front for next years taxes, as well as the year you are in.

          ok, so once its rolling, its not too bad, but it was a bit of a shocker for me last year, i had to find a not inconsiderable sum of money in 10 days (as you have to pay most of it by jan 31st). i then forgot i had to make another payment in june and got told off for forgetting, which is fair enough i suppose....

        2. John R. Macdonald

          Re: tax returns - auto filled

          PAYE is being introduced next year in France. (one year later than planned). No tax on income earned in 2018 (conditions apply). Housing tax (taxe d'habitation) is being phased out for people who qualify (roughly 80% of the taxable population).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: tax returns - auto filled

          The basic French income tax returns are fine, as they are automatically filled.

          That's a fairly recent innovation.

          I tried not declaring £100 in oversees account, but they gently suggested that I had not declared everything. I have closed my Uk account to avoid the paperwork...

          I need my UK accounts, and given the impossibility of opening one these days if you don't live in the country it's probably better to keep them.

          The biggest pain is the different tax years. France uses the calendar year, the UK uses April 6th - April 5th for some forgotten historical reasons.

          As a result I correctly declared UK interest payments for the year 2014 on my French tax form. My UK bank then sent the French authorities a simple statement "Mr X earned xxxx interest in 2014", which didn't match the numbers I declared because the UK figures were for the UK 2014 tax year, not the calendar year. That took a lot of correspondance to sort out.

          The next two years will be fun when France moves to partial PAYE, I forsee more paperwork, and more delays.

          1. sean.fr

            Re: tax returns - auto filled

            Around 2000, I was on series of short term contracts for a UK company in France, paying PAYE in UK.

            In a gap between contracts I returned to the UK. UK cut up rough about unemployement benefit as "I had insufficient cultural links to the UK - paying taxs did not count... So when the next contract came through I opted for a French contract.

            Try telling the Uk tax man that you can not prove you are paying French tax as it is not yet due.They tried to stick me with a fine of £100 for non production of documents. I opted to go to trial, and finally a competant human actually checked how the french system worked and it was resolved..

            They are not really set up for cross border working. Crossing daily or at weekends. It is only 35 minutes and house prices a lot lower.

            Try renewing a UK passport in France now. You end up "sans papiers" for 6 weeks. There is no urgent or same day service.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK, commentards ....

    WTF Was the "Bouliquement" in "Bouliquement Monty Python" - a show in Pairs 89/90 ???

    I was assured by French people it wasn't a French word, until I showed them the Pariscope listing.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: OK, commentards ....

      Bouliquement is apparently a colloquial alternative to manifestement to mean "blatantly"

  7. N2 Silver badge

    But

    They can screw up as much as they like!

  8. Harman Mogul

    "Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

    "Up to a point, Lord Copper."

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