A Petit Life in Paris
We had a very full house yesterday at “Après Midi” to hear Harriet Welty Rochefort talk about the cultural differences she experienced as a young American moving to France and marrying a Frenchman not that long after.
In an opening message to the attendees, I reminded everyone that attending Après Midi means one must be willing to have their photograph taken and a brief description written about them for publishing in the Parler Paris Nouvellettre®. In addition, the café allows us to hold our meetings free as long as each person orders at least one drink, even as small as a coffee! Your presence there indicates your willingness to participate in these two small requirements.
Harriet’s husband, Philippe, about whom she writes a lot, sat quietly in the corner with a stack of her books to sell and for her to sign — French Toast, French Fried and Joie de Vivre. Reading from her books, the words struck home as everyone had so much to say about their own experiences living in a foreign land, particularly a French one.
One thing she cajoled about is how in France something “petit” is considered much more precious than something “big” as we might think in the States — petit fours, “Mon Petit Chou,” un petit café, etc., etc., etc. It has always struck me funny, too, and I often joke with the “vendeur” when he asks for “un petit signature” on the credit card slip: “Wouldn’t you prefer a big one?” (Nope, they wouldn’t.)
This was just one ‘petit’ nuance in French life we talked about with Harriet, but there are volumes of them, all in her books. Her stories were delightful and it was a perfect way to kick off the Summer season in the City of Light, in preparation for the festivities to come surrounding Bastille Day.
To read all about the afternoon and see the photos, visit our Après Midi page.
And to read more about Bastille Day festivities, read last week’s Parler Paris.
On another note, Americans who aren’t living outside the U.S. might not know much about FATCA…but those who are living outside the U.S. do and should.
FATCA is the acronym for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. It was a law signed as part of the HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) in 2010 that imposes regulations on foreign banks and U.S. citizens to report their foreign-owned assets in an effort to find tax evaders. The reporting itself does not incur taxation on the assets — a misunderstood aspect of the law, but does cause reverberations that can cost us dearly.
No one argues with the reasoning for the U.S. to want to recuperate lost tax revenue as a result of undeclared foreign assets, but as an American living outside the U.S., the regulations penalize honest citizens. It is near to impossible now for those of us living in a foreign country to acquire a bank account or obtain a mortgage as a result — since the banks on which the regulations are imposed no longer can afford time and money to take us on as customers.
A petition to repeal FATCA just came across my desk, and is well worth reading and signing:
Petition by Rami Schandall
To be delivered to The United States House of Representatives and President Barack Obama
IRS efforts to chase tax cheats are netting another group entirely. Americans, green card holders, and dual citizens living abroad, face the threat of prohibitive fines for simply failing to file with the IRS, when many are unaware they were required to do so. This aggressive cash grab can devastate the lives of law-abiding citizens who already pay high taxes in their country of residence.
The fines for not reporting are as high as 50% of any unannounced holdings, year over year. This can add up to more than 100% of assets, even if no tax is owed! Retirement funds and education funds for families who may never have even lived in the US would be wiped out. This is disproportionate and harsh punishment, and anti-constitutional under the 8th Amendment of the Constitution.
FATCA asks foreign financial institutions to act as collectors for the IRS, sometimes breaking local privacy laws, and setting up prohibitive barriers to international investment and legitimate trade.
This is a terrible plan on so many levels. Repeal it now!
To read more and sign the petition, visit:
And to read more about FATCA, visit democratsabroad.org.
Happy Bastille Day!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Harriet Welty Rochefort)
P.S. Just found out our episode on Tiny House World, Le Petit Chateau in Paris, is re-airing tonight! Tune in to the FYI network at 5:30 p.m. EDT.