Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Have you overpaid your tax in France?

Image from the Telegraph
If you are a non resident of France and have any rental income there, you may have inadvertently paid extra charges on that for the past couple of years.
Francois Hollande, that champagne socialist president of France brought in social charges on all capital income, even for non residents on income from 2013 onwards.
This has now been deemed by the European Court of Justice as illegal as social charges should not be charged to people who do not live in the country.
If you have paid this, you are entitled to a refund. Sneakily, this charge would have appeared on your tax bill and not a separate social charges bill...
You will not be informed so you will have to chase this up yourself.

Here is a link to a very good article ( in English) telling you what to do to reclaim your social charges

http://www.connexionfrance.com/Non-residents-property-capital-gains-income-reclaim-12056-news-article.html

You can buy me a pint of guinness when you see me next!!!


Monday, June 01, 2015

Article in the Irish Times - Moving back to Ireland

‘We wanted to be back in Ireland for all the big events, good and bad’

Returning to Ireland Q&A: Karen O’Reilly and her family have no regrets about moving home to Clonakilty from France

Karen O’Reilly with her husband Brian and children Alannah (10) and Dylan (8)

Why did you decide to return from abroad?
We moved to France in 2002, and lived near Perpignan on the Spanish border until 2013, when we decided to move back to Ireland. Our children were eight and six, and we felt it was a “now or never” moment before they got entrenched with friends.
We were both running our own businesses but felt we were being held back by the anti-entrepreneur mentality in France, especially with Francois Hollande at the helm.
We had a wonderful life in France, living five minutes from the Med and an hour from the ski slopes. We loved our big circle of friends, both French and expat, but with the French, we never really got them and they never really got us. We knew our dear expat friends would all eventually pack up and move back “home”, so there was always a temporary element to our expat friendships.
We missed the craic and the banter and the openness and friendliness of Irish people. We wanted our children to grow up to be Irish. We wanted to be home for the communions, the weddings, the significant birthdays, St Patricks Day, 99s in the summer, the country on a high on a rare sunny day, the radio shows, Munster matches, Limerick hurling days, the enormous charity of a small nation in times of need, creamy Guinness that doesn’t taste the same anywhere else in the world, country pubs, laughing so hard it hurt, taking the mickey out of everything, the inevitable sing song at the end of a party, people smiling, and the warm family hugs.
We also wanted to be back to lend solidarity on the bad days, to be there for the funerals and the sad times. A phone call or a Skype call is not just the same as being there to hold someone’s hand.And so we made the momentous decision, 12 years and two kids after leaving, to come home. A year a half later, we have no regrets.
Where have you moved to in Ireland? Is this where you are from originally? And why did you choose this place?
My Mom moved to Clonakilty about 10 years ago and although we are originally from Limerick, every time we came to Ireland on holidays from France, we would stay in Clonakilty. We fell in love West Cork and felt it would be a great place to bring up our kids. We weren’t wrong, and the children are thriving in their new schools. I genuinely feel like we have won the lottery. It’s the people that make a place special and I am still blown away by the generosity of spirit, the friendliness, the wonderful sense of community and how warmly we have been welcomed. It’s also a stunningly beautiful spot, close to the mountains and the sea, and boasting probably the best food in Ireland.
Did talk of an economic recovery in Ireland influence your decision?
We were ready to love back so the economic situation in Ireland did not really influence our decision. France is in dire straits economically, and the general public are seriously unhappy. Taxes are rising every year and people really do struggle to survive. Entrepreneurs are penalised at every turn as the socialist government attempts to keep the people down.
How much research did you do before leaving France? Did you have schools or jobs lined up, for example?
We had schools lined up for the kids. They go to two different schools, a boys and a girls school. Segregation was new for them, as were the uniforms ( a God send!). We were invited to meet the principals in both schools, and they interviewed the children. The atmosphere in both schools is one of nurturing and inclusiveness.
How have your children adjusted?
Our children are very happy and love their new schools and friends. They are very sporty, which helps, and they are loving their new GAA sports. We live in a housing estate in Clonakilty and there is great freedom; the kids play on the green every day and cycle everywhere. Our house is an open home which I love, and there are always kids coming and going. This does not really happen in France. They also love having their granny living close by, who spoils them rotten of course.
What is your impression of the economy in Ireland now that you have returned? Did you have a realistic view from afar?
We have been fairly regular visitors to Ireland and so were in touch. I think Irish people should go and live in France for a while, pay all the onerous taxes and social charges (and water charges), live on far less income, and then tell me what they have to complain about in Ireland.
Nowhere is perfect and Ireland’s medical system is probably not as good as the system in France, but the average Irish person is far better off than the average French person, who is taxed to the hilt.  
What challenges have you faced since returning to Ireland?
The one thing we miss the most is the excellent wine we had on our doorstep. Living in the Languedoc Roussillon region, the largest vineyard in the world, we were spoilt for choice.
I took a career break, wanting to get the children settled into their new environment. I am currently looking for work so we’ll see how that goes.
Has anything else surprised you since you returned?
In France, people dress very conservatively and so it was a shock to me to see young teenage girls caked in makeup and dressed in tiny skirts high heels. I am dreading those years with my daughter, who is now ten.
Are there any other downsides to being back?
I left my only sister in France – we were in business together for over 12 years so I miss her terribly, as well as my niece and nephew.
What tips or advice would you give others considering the move back?
Choose carefully where you decide to live. Having family close by has been such a help to us. Be positive and embrace all that is great about Ireland. If you are unsure about moving back, rent for a year (we did) and leave your options open.
Overall, has the move been worth it? Would you consider moving abroad again in the future, or are you here to stay?
We have absolutely no regrets. We will definitely stay in Ireland now while the children are in school. I think it’s unfair on the kids to move around unnecessarily. We’ll be here for the next ten years at least. After that, I would love to live somewhere warm for at least part of the year.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Ireland - A giving nation

One thing that has struck me since our return to Ireland is the amount of charity work and money being raised for organisations that goes on in every single city, town and village in Ireland. It really is astounding the amount of voluntary work, charitable events and collections for those less fortunate that goes on every week of the year.
I wasn't surprised then to discover that Ireland is ranked 4th in the World Giving Index which is put together by Gallup based on the following survey:
Which of the following three charitable acts they had been undertaken in the past month:
  • donated money to an organisation?
  • volunteered time to an organisation?
  • helped a stranger, or someone they didn’t know who needed help?
(thank you wikipedia)

For a small nation of just over 4 million just coming out of the grips of a recession, this is really something to be proud of.
This altruistic nature is pretty non existent in France , and apart from the telethon which takes place in December, there is very little of any charitable type work done in France. France ranks number 90 in this World Giving Index, after countries like Ethopia (72), Afghanistan (79) and Bangladesh (72).

Why are the French less charitable? Well one might argue that they have far less disposable income than other Europeans ranking higher than they. One might also point out that they pay a fair whack already on social charges and so they feel it is the government's job to look after the weaker and poorer in society. Fair point, so let's take the money out of the philanthropy equation and the result is that French people don't volunteer their time either, or for that matter help strangers..why is this?

We were invited to a dinner party in France shortly after the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. We had just returned to France after being in Ireland for the holidays where everybody was out raising money to help out. After a few drinks at the dinner party, Mr Getrealfrance suggested that we should have a sing song and anyone who wouldn't sing had to throw 5euros into the pot for the tsunami fund. This was met with incredulity and horror. Most people left the party abruptly ( before dessert - this is unheard of) and not one person contributed. We were never invited back to the neighbours house, but that's another story!

As Ireland rallies together with thousands of events this weekend to raise funds for Nepal, I am proud to be Irish.

We'll be there!


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Let the children be

France is in the merde again for slapping it's children - an all too common sight just about everywhere in France. I have been in people's houses at dinner parties and seen children slapped across their faces for playing with their petits pois. I've left beaches traumatised by the physical and verbal abuse parents were giving their children. Slapping your children is not frowned upon in France. Now, a human rights watch dog has criticised France and called for an outright ban on slapping your children.

Why do so many French parents slap their kids? Why? Because they know no different.
This ad campaign from 2011 sums it up for me.


Let the children be 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Irish girls do it better

What the Irish cailin could teach the French woman....
Don't forget to smile
The craic.
Les filles - get yourself some girlfriends and so out and have a giggle. Be silly. Be stupid. Have an extra glass of wine now and then. Dance on the bar. Play practical jokes on one another. Go out at least once a month without your husband. Life is short, les filles, don't take it all so flippin seriously! And don't forget to Smile! You do remember how to smile, don't you? :-)

Clothes and style
Oh yes, I know, the French have the reputation as being so stylish and effortlessly chic, but frankly, their style is BORING! Black is always the new black as they march sheeplike straight down the conservative line and let's not even mention the comfortable and sensible shoes. An abomination! The Irish girl is not afraid to show her personality, wear colour and flaunt her look. Clothes can be fun too! Go wild and splash out with a bit of colour.

Spend quality time with your children
STOP giving out to your children. I'm just back from a weekend in France and every single interaction I had with parents and children involved a whole lot of shouting and chastising their extremely well behaved enfants.
Let the children be children. Encourage them to use their imagination. Allow them to run wild now and then. Teach them that it is OK to be different. Slapping children and constantly putting them down and slamming them in their place will result in a nation of lily livered meek adults who are afraid of their own shadows. At every possible opportunity, a French parent will offload her kids, to the garderie, the centre aéré, the colony in the summer etc. In France, children should be unseen and unheard..

Think outside the box
I know you have always been told that flowers and red and green leaves are green and there is no need to see flowers any other way but ..... sometimes there are two ways of looking at a problem. Feel free to think outside the box and to come up with solutions to obstacles that may come your way in life... NON, is not always the right answer to something that have never been done or tried before ... (this point is especially for a particular red haired woman in the prefecture in Perpignan!)

Be friendly and helpful
It makes the day go quicker and it actually makes you feel better and in a good mood. Like green eggs and ham, it's one to try....

And did I mention the craic??
What else do you think us Irish women could teach the French?

Monday, February 23, 2015

French girls do it better...

What we can learn from our French girlfriends .. and what they can learn from us...
Lingerie from Primark
The French - you either love or hate them and when it comes to French women , the majority of us are mostly slightly intimidated by them! With their aloof ways and superior attitude, I feel goofy, un co-ordinated and clumsy as they blow smoke into my face and studiously ignore me ( me at school gates waiting for kids in France for 8 years!), wearing black to my rainbow colours and staring me down when I smile and try to make conversation...I bow to them in the following..

Underwear.
As a keen swimmer, I have come up close and personal with women's underwear in the dressing rooms of pools in both France and Ireland. French women, no matter their size, will always have matching lingerie. Lingerie, ladies, and not grey granny knickers paired with an ill fitting off colour bra. What a French girlfriend wears under her clothes is nearly more important that her outer garments. Lacy, sexy, matching, colourful stuff. Treat yourself for Valentines day girls and invest in a well fitting, matching set - you'll be surprised at what a confidence boost this will give you!

Eating and Drinking
A meal is to be savoured, enjoyed and lingered over. Food is a delight, not just fuel or something to be afraid of. Embrace it without overindulging. Drinking is something you do with food. In my 12 years living in France, I never saw a drunk French girl. It's not pretty, cool or clever to be rat assed.
French women, despite eating apparently whatever they want, don't get fat as the book of the same name testifies ( debatable, as the French obesity rates creep up and up)
However, As Ireland lurches towards being the fattest nation in Europe, we could take a leaf out of their diet books....

Being mysterious
The thrill, girls, is very often in the chase and this is what makes a French woman attractive. While French women may very often lack in personality, they make up for it with their mysterious ways. And this advice goes mostly for young girls : you will never see a French girl half naked with her butt cheeks hanging down under her skirt/skimpy shorts. You will never see a French girl caked in makeup wearing 8 inch stilletto heels. You will never see a French girl sporting the spray tan orange glow. Irish girls, take note, it is not attractive. You look like prostitutes. Put it away and keep the guys guessing....you are beautiful without all that gunk on your face and body and without exposing 99% of your flesh.

Love Life
French women are very much into their 'vie en couple'. In fact, they rarely do anything without their significant other half. Us Irish women probably could invest a bit more time and effort into our romantic lives. Sex is important to the French lady, even as she gets a little older. It seems to me that once an Irish woman has bagged her man, that things can slide a little, from looking after oneself, putting on weight and keeping it interesting in the bedroom.
For example, every time I went to get my bits waxed at the local French beauty parlour, the beautician would ask me would I like to nether regions shaped into a heart or ladyscaped into a landing strip as my husband would surely adore it, maybe a few vajazzles, madame??
Ehh, he's from Ireland...do you think he'd notice?
And this from a lady whose name was Fanny LeCoq, I kid you not.....

Have you any examples of what French women do better?
Next post - what we can teach our French sisters......


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

GetRealFrance on the Claire Byrne Show

On Monday night, Suzanne, my sister and I were invited to be in the audience of the Claire Byrne show on RTE. They wanted us to give our opinion on the taxation system in France compared to the system in Ireland. Eamonn Dunphy had put together the report, after spending 25 years on and off in France ( ie he has a holiday home in Deauville and visits there sporadically - can he even speak French? ) Why, he would be chosen as the expert on France is questionable ...
Claire Byrne with Suzanne and I

Anyway, Paul Murphy of the Anti Austerity Alliance had been arrested on Monday and Claire was given the scoop to interview him, so I'm guessing that the French v Ireland debate was pushed aside for this and we didn't have a whole lot of time to discuss the issue. In fact when the 'debate' ended, Claire noted that we could have debated for at least another hour...so this is all the stuff we didn't get to say!

Eamonn's report was about comparing the lives of an Irish family living in France and an Irish family living in Ireland. In his model, both families were earning approximately the same ( in my 12 years living in France, I didn't know anyone earning 78,000euros per annum but anyway....). His angle was that the French get a lot more bang for their buck with a much better health system and excellent child care. While he is right on both counts, nobody is going to argue with that , his argument did not take into account the comparative low wages in France and the massive social charges one has to pay. There are also additional costs like taxe fonciere (rates) and taxe d'habitation (poll tax) and water charges ( there are no allowances!!!). These social charges, income tax and other taxes, when added up, count for nearly 75% of your income.

We had to leave France because we couldn't survive and we are among hundreds of thousands doing so. If France is as wonderful as Dunphy makes out, why are there so many of it's bright educated youngsters and entrepreneurs leaving? The main obstacle to French people with a bit of get up and go to leaving the country is the language barrier - those that have some ambition and can speak English are leaving in droves - London is now France's 5th city in terms of French population. French speaking Canada is also a popular choice.

Why are they leaving? They are leaving because extreme socialism stinks - the joy has been taken out of their lives as most of their hard earned money goes back into the state coffers. Hollande has totally exasperated the situation, inventing new taxes at every corner to pay for his idealistic socialist notions.

Irish people do have to pay for their child care and the medical system may not be as good as in France - but in my opinion, there is no way the Irish person be prepared to pay the same amount of tax and social charges as their French neighbours...

In short, someone has to pay for all these wonderful social benefits and that someone is the average earning middle class person. The disposable income in France is far lower than it is in Ireland.
Nowhere is perfect, I love France and had a wonderful time there, but I'll take my chances in Ireland where 'capitalism' is not a dirty word and you are encouraged to work and to get on in life. France's strain of extreme socialism is bordering on communism. C'est la verité

 See the following chart from the OECD;

The following average wage statistics is adjusted to purchasing power parities (PPP), i.e. the wage levels reported are adjusted downwards in high-cost countries, and upwards in low-cost countries. By this measure, the United States and Switzerland have the highest relative wage levels.

rankCountryDisposable income
in 2012 USD
(PPP)[1]
Compulsory
deduction[2][not in citation given]
Gross income
in 2012 USD
(PPP)[3][dead link]

1 United States44,75329.6%55,047
2 Ireland38,21025.9%51,565
3 Luxembourg33,37336.6%52,639
4 Australia33,31932.9%49,655
5  Switzerland32,06639.8%53,265
6 Canada31,50130.8%45,521
7 United Kingdom29,93832.3%44,222
8 South Korea29,03821.0%36,757
9 Norway28,54338.5%46,410
10 Denmark27,42439.1%45,031
11 Japan23,48631.2%34,137
12 Austria22,81348.9%44,644
13 Finland22,54842.5%39,214
14 Sweden22,51243.0%39,494
15 Netherlands22,06452.7%46,646
16 Germany21,18749.7%42,121
17 Belgium20,89456.0%47,487
18 Israel20,79527.6%28,722
19 Spain20,23241.4%34,525
20 France19,72150.2%39,600
21 Croatia18,57542.3%32,193
22 Italy16,78950.4%33,849
23 Greece15,14241.9%26,062
24 Portugal14,62136.7%23,098
25 Poland12,58240.4%21,110
26 Czech Republic11,63743.2%20,487
27 Slovakia11,47943.2%20,210
28 Estonia10,64241.6%18,222
29 Hungary10,28849.4%20,332

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ireland v France - the medical system

Is Ireland prepared to pay for a better health service? That is the question that the Irish public need to ask themselves at the current bed crisis in Irish hospitals hits the headlines.
Carte Vitale - medical card in France - every resident must have one
Let's take a look at France : France has been voted as having the best medical system in the world by the World Health Organisation.
Ireland is ranked at number 18.
What does France do to provide such a top notch service? It taxes the bajasus out of the general public, that's what.

A whopping 32% of France's GDP is spent on social spending - this is the highest in the world and someone has to pay for that - and that someone is Joe Le Soap, the squeezed middle class who are struggling to keep their heads above water.
Talk to the people living and working in France and they are not a happy bunch - small and medium businesses are up against so many obstacles, new laws and taxes popping up willy nilly while the champagne socialists in Paris faff around trying to pay for their idealistic socialist dream, a nightmare really for most entrepreneurs or people who want to better their situation.
While the average monthly salary is roughly the same at about 2,200euros  - the typical Irish person has more disposable income due to the social charges heaped on top of the already struggling French taxpayer.
One must also pay taxe fonciere and taxe d'habitation ( rates and poll tax ) - while we were in France over a 12 year period, these doubled to nearly 3,000 per annum for an average house. Water ( shock horror) must be paid for on consumption, there are no allowances. The cost of living is approximately the same apart from the wonderful affordable divine wines (sigh - we do miss them!). Life is expensive in France.

I agree that Ireland's disgraceful situation with hundreds of sick people on corridors is not acceptable. I agree that it is a shame that Ireland did not develop a first class medical system in the celtic tiger years.
I agree that the health system needs to be managed better and more funding is required.
After watching the furore over the water charges in Ireland recently, I just don't think the Irish taxpayer is prepared to pay for it.
C'est tout.


Monday, January 12, 2015

#jesuischarlie


This week's French lesson :

Je suis Charlie
Tu es Charlie
Il/elle/on est Charlie
Nous sommes Charlie
Vous êtes Charlie
Ils/elles sont Charlie

RIP all those who perished this week 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Les Francais, take note - How to be Happy


We have lived without a television in our house for quite a number of years but after a visit from the Mother in Law ending with her sulking in the corner, arms folded as she couldn't watch the Late Late Show and Vincent Browne, we buckled. Mr Getrealfrance was sent to the attic to fiddle around with cables and voilá, the big screen in the corner lit up magically.
Now, as predicted, we're all addicted.
Albeit against our will , it is guiltily pleasurable to snuggle up of an evening when the wind is howling outside, warm the toes by the fire and watch the ole goggle box.
No- body appears to actually watch anything on the telly though, they just tweet about whatever nonsense is going on. You couldn't get a word in when #Charlie (Haughey) was trending the other night. Sitting on the couch tweeting on the twitter machine, it's the new going out, doncha know?
Anyway, last night, after first day back to school and kids in bed at a reasonable hour, I camped down to watch 'How to be Happy' with Maureen Gaffney, sorry, that's Dr Maureen Gaffney to you, darling.
It struck me that this was a program that should be aired in France, should be on the syllabus in French schools even. Like the youth being wasted on the young, France is wasted on the French, who râle their way through every day, spoilt brats who have always been handed everything on a plate, surrounded by beauty, they are never flippin happy!
Dr Maureen informed us that our happiness can be explained by a pie chart ( the French LOVE pie charts too!). 50% of the state of your happiness is down to your genes, 10% is down to life circumstances ( Hmm, tell that to the homeless and hungry) and 40% is totally controlled by you!
So how do you control your state of happiness?

In a nutsehll:

Be grateful
Do kind things (without expecting anything in return)
Smile and laugh aloud
Do things you love
Dress in bright colours
Be mindful
Rewire your brain to think positively

Simples?
Know any really happy French people?

#100Happydays - who is up for the challenge? Quelqu'un?

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