Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Living in France: Meet Ryan O’Connell

Moving to France and starting a new life is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and revitalize your life.  True enough it requires courage and a lot of research to move to a different country but if you put your heart in it, you can make your move a success.

Winemaker at O’Vineyards: Ryan O’Connell
Today I want to introduce you to Ryan O’Connell, a young winemaker at O’Vineyards and  member of the Outsiders a group of winemakers who have all fallen head over heels for Languedoc Roussillon wines.  Ryan also runs a Languedoc Wine blog and is the author of the e-book “Wines of Carcassonne”.   

How long have you been living in France Ryan?
 I lived in France on and off as a child, but I have been here more regularly since 2005

 What inspired you to come to France?  Why France rather than an English speaking country?
 My mom is French and my parents purchased a vineyard  in the south of France.

Does the dream match reality?  Did you find in France what you were expecting?
I thought I knew what French life would be like since I had lived in Paris as a child, but I found rural life to be a totally different experience, in a good way.  It's been wonderful here.  Although, country life means everybody knows everybody.  Without the anonymity of the city, I sometimes feel like I have no privacy.  But it's worth it for the beautiful landscapes and great wine.

Ryan O'Connell
What is it that you like the most about living in France?
 WINE!  and unpasteurized cheese.

What has been so far your worst experience living in France?
 All the paperwork, bureaucracy here is exactly as bad as people describe.

What advice would you give to any foreigners who want to come and start a new life in France?
Learn about what part of France you're going to.  Each region has its own history and culture.  Don't expect all of France to be the same or all French people to be the same as it’s one of the most diverse and culturally rich parts of the developed world.  And people still latch onto their regional heritage (especially in rural areas), so know your stuff if you want to integrate! 

Wines of Carcassonne.  A book by Ryan O'Connell

For more information or to visit O’Vineyards you can call email them at

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taxes In France


We just finished 2010, finished paying for all my 2009 taxes (taxes are paid one year in arrears in France) and I have to start worrying about my 2010 tax form for this year.  This is because the French tax year runs for the calendar year (ie. from the 1st January to the 31st December).  Very soon I will be receiving my annual tax return form called declaration des revenues.  Notice that in France, even if you have no income to declare you are obliged to fill in a tax return form, the French tax authorities will then send you a statement saying that you have no tax to pay.  

Taxes are high in France and as you would expect in a country with millions of bureaucrats, the French tax system is complicated even for the French!  It doesn’t matter how much you inform yourself, just when you think you finally understand it and you know it all… paffff they change the rules or even worst hit you with a new tax.

Having said that taxes are high in France, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that Personal Income Tax (Impot sur le revenue) in France is below average for EU countries, especially for large families, as the amount of income tax paid is based on the number of dependant children.  But before you get too happy, I’ll bring you back to the crude reality… once you add social security contributions (regarded as a form of tax) and other taxes, French taxes are among the highest in the world!

Every individual is responsible for paying and declaring their own Income Tax in France.  Late payment of tax bills will add a surcharge of 10% penalty to your bill.  

Who pays tax in France?
Under the French tax code if you are a resident in France you have to pay taxes in France. You are considered a French resident if:
  • You are living permanently in France.
  • You spend over 183 days in France during a calendar year.
  • Your business is based in France
  • You work in France

Your taxable income can be considerably reduced by an array of allowances such as social security payments, home improvements and others.

For more information on paying your taxes in France, the 2011 tax calendar and some useful vocabulary to understand the French tax system you can click here