Mona Lisa Takes the Leap
You know the old saying: “Six of one, half dozen of the other?”
Usually that means there’s no difference between them, right? But for all those who either dream it or do it, six months in Paris with a half dozen months in North America can be a pretty perfect scenario. I know dozens and dozens of people who do just that or something similar.
I used to think it was a pretty perfect scenario for myself, too, until one full year in Paris went by and the thought of leaving after that was terrifying. Almost every one who does the Paris-America-Paris-America routine I know starts to lean a little more toward Paris with every trip because while they’re in Paris they are dreading returning and while they’re in America, they’re dreaming of Paris.
Legally speaking, France expects you to have a long-stay visa if you’re physically resident more than 90 days. Those of you who do the back and forth jaunts regularly know better than to complicate your life with a visa that isn’t realistic. Besides, it will take longer than your 90-plus-day stay to accomplish getting it!
And let’s face it, if you’re not earning money here, or taking advantage of the social security system, then every time you step foot on French soil, you’re bringing your foreign sourced income into France and contributing to the economy. If you own property here, you’ve added even more. And who’s going to know if you’ve overstayed by a few days or even a few months? Do you think the authorities are keeping track? And even if they did, do you think they’re going to yank you out of your bed in the middle of night and deport you?
Guess again. Of course, there is the 183-day tax resident law and that’s what they really care about. “If you work less than 183 days in many countries you may be considered tax non-resident if certain other criteria are also met. However even as a non-resident you should normally still be paying tax on the revenue you generate in that country. If you work more than 183 days in most countries, then you will become tax-resident and liable for tax on your worldwide income, i.e. revenue from your work, i
nterest on investments, etc. The ‘183 day rule’ does NOT automatically mean that you can work for 183 days in a new country without paying tax or becoming tax-resident.”
However, luckily with France, there is a double taxation avoidance treaty so that you will not have to pay tax on the same income twice.
Here’s a trick question: Is it possible for a person to be resident in two countries that both define residency requirements as maintaining presence in each country for 183 days during a year?
Answer: Yes! Every four years — during a leap year! And this is the year, no? Remember, the year is 366 days long. During a leap year, its possible to be present in two different countries for 183 days. Your accountants are going to have lots of fun with this one!
Culturally speaking, there are even more important issues than money. Coincidentally my sister sent this cartoon of a European Mona Lisa BEFORE (on the left) and AFTER (clearly, on the right) she’d gotten a taste of America. The funny part is, it’s no joke! When I asked my dentist to whiten my teeth, she asked me “Why do you want to look like an American!?” That sent me away with gray teeth thinking maybe the natural European look was better after all.
So, what happens to those who keep a leg on each side of the big pond leaping from one to the other like an agile French frog?
I know what happens. I’ve seen it oh so many times before. In the beginning they enjoy the best of both worlds, and then sooner or later, they start to gravitate to one side. What side?
You already know the answer.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. If you are so inclined, in 25 words or less, tell me what your favorite side is and why. Click here to send your email to: [email protected]
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