My story starts in February, when I received my council tax. Actually, I received one, and my wife received one. Strange. As you know, council tax is based on a household, not a person, so to receive two council taxes to the same address is bizarre to say the least. I contacted the treasury in St Louis, and they recommended sending an email. Which I did.
Two months pass, and I receive a letter reminding me to pay my council tax. Stranger still, as we had already paid our tax. Well, one of them, of course. Once again I contacted the treasury in St Louis, and once again, they recommended I send an email. Which was swiftly done.
Then, on my birthday on July 25, I receive a letter saying that my bank account will be frozen, and the money I « owed », which was €1,300, would be taken from my account. Oh, FFS!! So early Monday morning, the wife and I take a morning off work to head to the tax office in St Pierre, documents in hand. After a long wait we meet with a representative. She explains that we were completely in the right, and she advised us to not pay the second council tax. She also contacted another department of the tax office that deals with account freezing, and told them to not freeze my account. I even called this department later on in the day, and they promised that the account wouldn’t be frozen.
That was on a Monday, on Wednesday my account was frozen, and my bank charged me €110 for the pleasure. Annoyed, I spoke to somebody at the bank who informed me that nothing can be done about it, as the bank manager was on holiday until August 18, and nobody had the power to refund the stolen money.
I also queued up at the tax office in St Louis, to talk to a simple little man, who had the nerve to ask me « Why didn’t you try to resolve this problem before? » Completely ignoring the print-outs of the emails I had sent in February and April. In fact, his response to each complaint I had was either, « That’s your fault » or « I don’t know ». He said we should send an email with all the information on, to the tax office. Yes, another email.
French red tape is probably the worst I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with. It certainly doesn’t help that the staff that I emailed didn’t have the decency to respond to my many emails. Nor that the left hand had no interest in talking to the right hand.
Leaving the tax office in St Louis, I saw a plethora of posters advising people to « Simplify your life, do your taxes online. » My advise to you, is to do everything in person, and with paper. Every time you talk to someone on the phone or in an office, take their name. Never send emails to them, as they seem incapable of opening them. Simplify your life, do your taxes right in their faces!
council tax – tax d’habitation
actually – en fait
household – foyer
swiftly – rapidement
frozen – bloqué (congelé)
FFS – zute alors
departement – service
annoyed – agacé
resolve – résoudre
red tape – paperasserie