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Americans in France: Guides for tax season and the French origins of English

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Americans in France: Guides for tax season and the French origins of English
People walk in front of the beach cabins of the Promenade des Planches during the 49th edition of the American film festival in Deauville, western France on September 2, 2023. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

From our best guides to help you this French tax season to changes to toll roads plus the very French origins of the English language, here's our latest newsletter for Americans who either live in France, visit frequently or plan to move here some day.

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Welcome to The Local's "Americans in France" monthly newsletter for members, featuring all the news and practical information you need as an American resident, visitor or second-home owner in France. You can sign up to receive it directly to your inbox before we publish it online via the link below. 

Dear Americans in France,

As the month of May begins, those of us living and working in France are undoubtedly looking forward to the four public holidays scattered throughout the next few weeks.

May is also tax season in France, and we've got a helpful guide with everything you need to know from making your first declaration to claiming tax breaks, plus changes to this year's form, the rules on foreign bank accounts and second homes.

When it comes to second homes, there is also property tax declaration (due at the end of June), which must be completed by everyone who owns property in France - including second-home owners who live in another country. If you filled it out last year and your circumstances have not changed, then you do not need to worry about filling it in again.

But if you recently bought property in France and you're worried about filling out the document, we've put together a vocabulary guide to make things a bit easier.

On the other hand, if you're thinking about buying a second home in France, here are a few things you might want to think about, as well as the locations that are popular amongst foreign second home buyers.

There are some other changes coming up in the next few months. The first is for motorists in France - certain motorways are going to start introducing free-flow tolls. Just like the system in the US, free-flow tollbooths will scan licence plates, allowing motorists to keep driving through the tolls without having to stop to pay.

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As of now, there are only two motorways (the A13 and A14 motorways, which run along the Paris-Normandy Axis) that are going to be affected, but it could be extended into others in the future. We spoke with a representative from Sanef, the company that operates the motorways in north-western France, about how this change will affect foreigners and people with non-French licence plates as well as those driving rental cars.

The second change is related to the EU's new entry and exit system (EES). Currently, it is scheduled to be introduced in autumn 2024 (unless it's delayed again, which is not unlikely). Basically, EES is an enhanced passport check at external EU borders, including a facial scan and fingerprinting. 

The change will affect non-resident Americans coming to visit France, as well as people who are resident here.

And on a lighter note - I'm always fascinated by the popularity of American trends among young French people, from high schoolers hanging out in McDonald's to the prevalence of American sports jerseys and souvenir-style T-shirts with American towns, cities and universities on them.

Just a few weeks ago, I went to a thrift store and it had an entire section dedicated to 'vintage' American T-shirts (the kind you would be able to buy in Walmart for just a few dollars). 

Though, I've learned to not assume that the person wearing the shirt has any knowledge of the town or sports team. I once approached a man wearing a Bucks hat in a bar and excitedly started to ask him if he's from Milwaukee, only for the guy to turn around with a very confused expression.

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This can be hard to square with the semi-frequent battles over how the English language and 'Anglo-Saxon' values are invading French life. But perhaps a new book with a controversial title will calm the traditionalists: La langue anglaise n'existe pas, C'est du français mal prononcé (The English language does not exist, it's just badly pronounced French).

The author (a linguist) argues that the supposed 'influx' of English words that are now used in France, especially tech-related terms, is nothing compared to what happened when French literally invaded English in the Middle Ages.

There are a lot of words shared between the two languages, though confusingly many of them are faux-amis (false friends, here's a list of some funny ones). I'm often reminded of the difference between the French entrée (appetizer) and the American entrée (main plate) when friends and family visit.

As always, we have our ongoing 'Americans in France' survey open and available for you to fill out to let us know the topics you would like to see covered. You can also give helpful tips (the ones you wish you had known beforehand) for other Americans looking to move to France.

And of course feel free to get in touch or leave a comment. You can reach me at [email protected]

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