Are You Part of the Fallout? Fall into France
Monday night’s Webinar, “Finding and Financing Your French Property” with Kim Bingham of Private-Rate and myself, managed to gather over 400 registrations! Those are very exciting numbers, but in some ways not surprising. I could sense the pent up frustrations to get on with our lives, and for those who have the urge to make the move to France, the desire has been bubbling up and spilling over. And that happened BEFORE the news that “For the first time, Twitter called tweets from Donald Trump ‘potentially misleading’ — a decision that prompted the president to accuse the social media platform of election meddling.” (CNN Business News)
What I have jokingly called “The Trump Fallout” — the number of Americans seeking asylum from the political insanity that is dividing the nation, and during the Covid-19 crisis killing too many thousands of Americans because of the current leadership, is falling out even faster and stronger than ever. Just about every single person I speak to talks the same rhetoric.
The Webinar was well received and the questions submitted to the Chat abounded, including a strong number of questions about acquiring the right to live in France. My staff and I have a general knowledge about immigration, but when it comes to specifics, we refer our clients to the immigration attorneys we recommend, Fragomen. Not everyone needs such a high level of assistance, but as a believer in professional advice, you are always safer hiring a professional to assist you, rather than trying to “go it alone.”
Meanwhile, here are just a few questions from the Webinar that we can easily answer:
* Has the Coronavirus crisis changed the difficulty in getting a French Visa?
A French visa has never been “difficult” to get. There is a bureaucratic process to it, but as long as you comply with the basic requirements, it’s easy. During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, “France has decided to suspend the issuance of visas until further notice.”
This comes from the official website at which one can obtain all the basic information.
“Because of the COVID-19 health crisis, France has stopped issuing visas until further notice. This decision applies to all visa requests (Schengen short-stay visas, long-stay visas for France, and visas for overseas France). It also applies to applications for which appointments have already been made.”Be sure to visit the site and read what it has to say before you decide you need assistance.
* If you own property is it easier to get a residency visa?
Nope! Residency has nothing to do with property ownership in France. We’re quite fortunate that any non-resident can purchase property in France. On the flip side, ownership of that property is not one of the prerequisites to getting a visa!
* How does financing differ for citizens vs. non-citizens?
Kim explained that it’s not a matter of citizenship, but residency. The lenders see non-residents as riskier than residents and therefore the rates are slightly higher. When it comes to financing, you have to see the situation from the point of view of the lender — what makes a qualified borrower and what does not.
On that note, do not confuse citizenship with residency. The State can grant you permission to live in France and has no obligation to give you citizenship, something that must be earned. I have been a full-time French resident for more than 25 years, but still do not have citizenship. The only right not afforded me is the vote.
* As an American living in France, do you have to file U.S. taxes and French taxes?
Yep. The U.S. has citizenship-based taxation. Regardless of where you live or where you earn your money, you will ALWAYS have to file a tax return in the U.S. even if you earned nothing and pay no taxes. Tax residency is different from citizenship or even residency status. There is the “183-day rule” used by most countries to determine if someone should be considered a resident for tax purposes, but there is also the “Substantial Presence Test” as defined by the IRS. France has a similar rule: if you reside in France for more than 183 days in the same year, or if your permanent place of residence is in France, and the center of your financial and personal interests is in France, you are considered tax resident in France. In the absence of any other deciding criteria, your tax residence will be in France if you hold French nationality. And if none of these statements is fully true, the tax authorities in the two countries may decide your tax residency for you. People living part-time in France who are not tax residents are only taxed on income from French sources. Residents of France are taxed on the entirety of their income earned from French sources or from foreign sources. International tax treaties may also provide for specific arrangements.
* Can an American seller and American Buyer complete a sales transaction in the United States and then use a French Notaire to transfer the title?
Nope. The transaction MUST take place in France via a Notaire and with the payment of the appropriate taxes and fees. Period.
* After how much time living in France are you considered a resident?
If you stay longer than 90 days, you are required to have a visa. Once you have a visa, you are a resident of France! But remember, that doesn’t necessarily make you a tax resident in France!
* Shouldn’t we sort out our visa before attempting to purchase property in France?
Nope. One thing has nothing to do with the other!
* Do you assist clients with visa questions or applications?
Yes, to a point, but we have been trying to find an associate here in France who has the capabilities of advising and assisting our clients with their immigration questions who is fully qualified to do so, but with little success. There are lots of people who tout this service, but my experiences with them have been less than desirable. So far, there is no one on which we can fully depend to give our clients the level of service that is meets my standard. If you know of someone you would recommend, by all means, send them our way!
As a result of the Webinar, we decided to offer seven Intimate Group Consultations this summer with me, on Zoom, under the title of “Planning Your Future in France after Coronavirus.” The groups will consist of no more than five and no less than three individuals and the topics are specific. Perhaps you’ll find at least one that suits you.
Scroll up to the announcement at the top of this newsletter to learn more about it and to register. They are already filling up fast, so do not delay. Otherwise, you may also choose to do an individual consultation with me to address your specific needs. For more information, email [email protected].
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Want to keep your creative juices flowing this summer? The Paris Writers Workshop 2020 is going on-line! This year, Paris’ literary heritage is at your fingertips! PWW has been WICE’s flagship creative writing event for over two decades. Held every two years, the event features distinguished and award-winning faculty. The Paris Writers Workshop will be held July 5-12, 2020. In addition to the masterclasses, all participants are invited to enjoy an opening reception, join in our panel discussions and meet over a closing cocktail. Click here to learn more about it and register!