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Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit

Some said au revoir and good riddance, while others were more supportive in France following the historic Brexit vote.

Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP
France has shown a divided response to the news that the UK has voted to leave the EU, although a vocal majority (online at least) appear to have been pleased. 
 
A survey of newspaper Le Figaro's readers found on Friday morning that most respondents in France were satisfied with the result of the vote. 
 
The screengrab below shows that 68 percent of the more than 10,000 people surveyed were satisfied with the result, compared to 32 percent who weren't. 
 
 
And this majority was the most vocal on Twitter on Friday, as many French vented their anger – as well as predictable digs at “Les Anglais” – over the Brexit vote.
   
The hashtag #BonDebarras – Good Riddance – spoke for itself, but one user sniped: “Les Anglais are beginning to realise that most Europeans are delighted that they are splitting.”
  
Other snarky tweets recalled that Britain had always had an arm's-length relationship with the European Union, having opted out of the euro, the visa-free Schengen zone and the Common Agricultural Policy.
   
“Have they ever really been part of the EU?” one asked.
 
'Today it's hard not to feel ashamed to be British'
   
Said another: “They were a pain in the ass when they wanted in, now they're a pain in the ass going out: The English are the cats of Europe.”
   
In the midst of the Euro 2016 football championship, with a possible quarter-final showdown looming between England and France, many questioned whether the English side still had a right to take part.
   
“Let's kick out the England team. They don't have visas,” one user said.
   
The inevitable references to British cuisine included one tweet posting a picture of Marmite, calling it “a little something the English can keep all for themselves”.
   
“The English… vote like they cook, it's diabolical,” another said.
A photo captioned “Brexit in one picture”, below, showed a table laden with an abundance of European noshes including a French pastry, German sausage and Italian pasta, with a plate of baked beans off in a corner.
Using the age-old French term of endearment for the English — Les Rosbifs, an approximation of roast beef — another Twitternaut wrote: “To celebrate this historic British referendum day I've enjoyed the traditional feast of Les Rosbifs: curry.”
   
One tweet stood out as a reminder of why the English and the French have been entwined in a love-hate relationship for centuries.
   
“The English are really a proud and stupid people. You'd think they were French.”
 
There was also some positive reactions and showings of support. 
 
“It's a sad day,” wrote one French Tweeter. “The thought that France could do the same thing under the National Front in 2017 is distressing.”
 
Other French people, particularly those living in the UK, were less impressed. 
 
“British people don’t realise that this is an error that is going to destroy the solidarity between European countries,” Charlotte Buton, a Frenchwoman who has been living in London for the past two years.
 
“I don't see anything positive coming from Brexit, neither on a social, economic or cultural level,” another Frenchwoman, who preferred to be unnamed, said.  
 
“I am deeply convinced that British people have voted out of anger and not ignorance of the negative economic impact.”

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Why some Brits in France are facing bigger tax bills since Brexit

Over the summer people living in France have received their tax bills, and some Brits who are residents here will have noticed that their bill is larger than usual - here's why.

Why some Brits in France are facing bigger tax bills since Brexit

Brits who live in France and make a tax declaration here, but have income from the UK, may have noticed that their tax bill has increased this year – here’s why and whether you can challenge the increase. 

Brexit

Yes, this is Brexit related and it refers to social charges on non-French income. The standard rate for these charges are 7.5 percent for income from an EU country and 17.2 percent for income from a non-EU country.

The tax bills received over the summer relate to the annual French tax declaration filed in April 2022, covering the 2021 tax year. In other words, the first year after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Social charges

Social charges are levies with a social purpose introduced in France in the 1990s to finance the country’s complex social security system.

If you have a French payslip you will already be familiar with them, and they actually make up the bulk of deductions from salaries, significantly more than income tax.

READ ALSO How to understand your French payslip

One of the big questions is whether France’s social charges are actually a ‘tax’ – the government repeatedly insists they’re not, for all that they look like a tax and are paid like a tax. 

The position on French social charges has changed several times in recent years, sometimes in response to court action all centred on whether this money that government deducts from your income can be called a ‘tax’ or not.

Katey Murray, at The Spectrum IFA Group, explained: “Article 29 of the amended Finance law of 2012 extended social charges to rental income from French properties and capital gains on properties for people who are not French tax resident.

“In 2015, a Dutch national challenged the fact that he was paying social charges in France and social security contributions in the Netherlands. The case went before the ECJ, which ruled these levies were similar to social security contributions and therefore contrary to European law.”

France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, confirmed the ECJ’s ruling. “French tax offices then, if a claim was made to them, reimbursed undue social charges,” Murray said.

“However, the French Government stated that these claims could only be made by someone covered for their healthcare by the system of another European country (EU, EEA or Switzerland) and not someone covered by a non-European health system. 

“This was confirmed by the ECJ for a French national living in China in a case in January 2018.”

Foreigners in France

And it’s this ‘healthcare system’ distinction that has become the key detail for Brits in France, clarified by a court ruling from March 2022 on the details of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. 

Social charges are currently set at 7.5 percent for income from an EU country, or 17.2 percent for income from a non-EU country. So income from the UK jumped to the higher rate at the end of the Brexit transition period.

However the ECJ ruling on healthcare cover is the key bit – essentially if you are already contributing to another European country’s social security system, you benefit from the lower rate.

This mainly affects two groups – Brits living in the UK (and therefore covered by the NHS) who have income in France, and Brits who are living in France and who have an S1, which states that their healthcare costs are covered by the NHS.

S1 holders are mainly British pensioners living in France, but the scheme can also apply to other groups including students and posted workers. 

Brits who are living in France and are covered by the French health system pay the higher rate on income from the UK. 

Technically the 7.5 percent rate is a ‘social levy’ rather than the prélèvements sociaux.

The ‘social levy’ is not charged on pensions, so if you are an S1 holder who receives a British pension, you will not have to pay any social charges at all, while certain types of property income may also be exempt from social charges.

Tax

As we stated above, social charges are not a tax (although they are deducted from your income by the tax office).

Taxes on income from the UK is covered by the bilateral dual-taxation treaty between France and the UK, which states that you don’t have to pay tax in France on income that you have already paid tax on in the UK. 

So the first thing to check on your tax bill is whether deductions relate to impôt (tax) or prélèvements sociaux (social charges).

Challenge your tax bill

So what to do if you think you have been incorrectly charged on income from the UK?

If you are an S1 holder, it’s a case of telling the tax office that you benefit from the lower 7.5 percent social levy, rather than the 17.2 percent social charge.

Murray said: “You can state that you are not subject to social charges by ticking boxes 8SH/8SI on your tax form (2042 form) or, if you have been charged at the higher rate, you can claim them back on your personal page on the impots.gouv.fr website.”

If the over-charge relates to a different issue – for example you have been charged both tax and the social charge or charged on exempt income – your first step is talking to the tax office, either in person or over the phone.

READ ALSO How to challenge your French tax bill

This article is a general overview of the tax rules and is not intended as a substitute for financial advice, if your financial affairs are complicated you are always better off getting professional help from an accountant who specialises in international taxation.

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