Les feuilles mortes

November 2018

From Wikipedia
"Autumn Leaves" is a popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song, "les Feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves"), with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma - derived from a ballet piece of music (Rendez-vous, written for Roland Petit), itself partly borrowed from Poème d'octobre by Jules Massenet - and lyrics by French poet Jacques Prévert.

The song is clearly an expression of pain and despair conveying the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from her or his parents.

The fall season is when the leaves fall down and even in Paris they cover the side walks, the squares and the parks. It is the time of the year that is the most melancholic. As it might surprised many, I like being melancholic, mixing past found memories with what I am doing today. Having those too few quiet moments when one measures what has been accomplished and going through all what was failed, is bitter sweet. Like the leaves, they fall on the floor dead, but we know they grow in a few months.

These four seasons, the dead leaves, have been used from the beginning of time as metaphore illustrating the human life, the force of the living, the fate that all stories and especially love stories end too soon. The song mentioned as title talks exactly, the reminiscence of a lost love.

I hope that I did not put too much melancholic drafting some sections of this issue. I thought of this businessman at St David Eposcopal church in Northern Wilmington who told me on Sunday that I had a job the next morning. The old-fashioned American businessman, working hard, giving a chance to whom he thought was deserving, a decent man from Monday morning to Sunday. I met many of those men while living in the USA, me the foreigner, the immigrant. I feel very lucky to have started my professional live with these men at a time when it seemed to be the norm, the early 1980’s. I try in my modest way to follow the footsteps of these men while living in France.

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH’S CONFIRMATION
The hearings went on for weeks. The speeches were vehement. There was a brutal opposition the entire time all the way to the last speeches at the White House. Even though I am French, I made a point of following what was happening as much as possible. I tried as much as possible to remain a witness. I watched and looked for an understanding of what was happening. The USA is deeply divided. Everybody says so, and it is quite obvious it is. This said, I would remind people that the birth of the USA as a nation showed a very divided group of people and the fight between Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson should put back, under scrutiny, if people think that that the USA has never been more divided. People can disagree with me about whether it was more divided then or now. I believe that this is a pointless exercise and I am just illustrating that there have always been divisions within the American population, sometimes very visible, other times hidden under the surface.

My point is elsewhere and I would like share it with you. France is known to put an excessive emphasis on diplomas and considers that the diplomas are the guarantee of an expertise. What has always impressed me with the USA is the emphasis on ‘get the job done and do it right.’ This is a very practical approach, a very efficient one too, that is a lot more democratic as everybody can excel and make it big. This is the essence of the American dream. If you work hard and you are good at what you do, you will make it, and sooner than later.

Who was invited to this American dream and how fair the system was or is, is not my topic, and I fully acknowledge that through the entire existence of the USA, there has always been parts of the population that are pretty much left out of this dream.

So, I always expect from the American leaders of the public and the private sector to be the best in their field since they made it to the top.

With the public sector, I believe that the leaders need to have a certain type of expertise, of character, and of ethics. Being French I grew up in school learning rhetoric, how to present an argument, how to structure a speech, how to write an essay, in a very formal way. Anyone who had a significant French schooling knows about “le plan.” It is the order by which the ideas should be presented in order to be clear, eloquent, and sticking to the topics.

From the founding fathers up to today, I hear or read very eloquent speeches, well structured, addressing very complex issues in a very understandable way. The speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Lincoln, President Kennedy, President Roosevelt, and so on, are still quoted today, referred to and studied in schools and universities. President Obama is very eloquent and belongs to my above-mentioned list. In recent years, about 30 years ago, I have been surprised and saddened by the fact that being well versed, broad knowledge, speaking several languages, was a handicap and not an asset when running for Congress as well as for the presidency. Still, I cannot get-over the fact during his entire campaign, Mr. Mitt Romney was never known as being bilingual in French, having had a significant experience living in France ending up in his early 20’s to be the leader of the Mormon church in France. For me, this is impressive, and shows the character of a superior leader.

This takes me to Justice Kavanaugh and his hearings. There are nine justices sitting on the Supreme Court, and they are supposed to be among the best judges in the entire country. Reaching that level means, to me, the need to have a superior expertise in law, an excellent temperament, a well-rounded character, and an acute respect for ethics. I listened to Mr. Kavanaugh and I was not impressed by him on any of those points. This truly says nothing about if he is going to be a good or bad Supreme Court Justice. Since I am French, that alone disqualifies me to express my judgments about this. So, I thought that this is the current situation and this should not be expected in this day and age. I did listen carefully to the hearing of Former FBI Director, James Comey, of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, of the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I was impressed by their eloquence, their ability to address broad issues and their calm temperament. All of them are Republican, therefore, I do not make a political issue, even on the political spectrum of being conservative versus liberal. I agree or disagree with their views, I believe that some of them did and do a good job, others did or are doing a bad job. The country is also very divided regarding these men too.

Then Justice Kavanaugh was facing accusations of sexual assaults, of lying under oath, and so on. With time, when there will not be a heated debate and the associated violence will have disappeared, the American public might learn for sure if some or all of it was true or false. Today, I see that the American nation is deeply hurt, and one of the reasons is that the political discourse has gone from disagreements to violent oppositions.

I believe that one of the solutions to have a more tamed discourse is to expect from leaders, especially in government, individuals who are only fit for the job but plain excellent.

So, the difference between the time of the founding fathers and today is those men who made the USA were brilliant, wise and passionate about the well-being of this newborn nation and were ready to compromise for the good of the nation. Today, I do not see much interest in the well-being of the nation, which includes far and foremost the care of all the people living in the USA. This last hearing did not show much genuine care for survivors of sexual attacks.

I would like to add one thing, which seems to be important. I hear a lot of Conservative Americans asking that the Pledge of Allegiance be brought back into the schools, respecting the flag and so on.
So, this is its current version:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The text seems easy to understand and it guarantees rights to everybody. I want to go a step further; the USA is a Republic. There are two Latin roots “res” which means “thing” and “publica” which is for everybody. Therefore, being a citizen of a Republic means you are entitled to share with all the others the common good of the country. Since its creation and again until quite recently, this sharing was understood in the USA as the success of one person was beneficial to the others and the common good was enhanced by the successes of many and the more the better for everybody. For one thing, wages were better, when the businesses were doing better.

I have tried to stick to review cultural, historical and legal matters sometimes, comparing the two countries, the USA and France. What I saw, makes me take a stand in recent American events, and I still believe that I am staying away from the debate between the Republican and the Democrat parties.

VOICE FROM THE GRAVE
Monday at 8PM, I got a call on the office landline. I had no idea who was calling that late. I am sure that many people wrestle with the same question in this situation, “Do I pick up this late? Or Do I let it go?” It is very tempting to ignore it and to listen to the message the next morning. But this time I pick it up. I immediately feel like a voice from the grave is calling me and am brought back almost 21 years back to the day.

I had just started my business in July, 1997 and picking up business had been slow during the summer. The September month had started well. I had just found a way to meet my clients in a small apartment close to my home, owned by a friend of mine who was using it occasionally for short-term rentals to tourists.

I was doing the Saturday morning grocery shopping nearby and saw a young woman opening the door to people while selling the homeless magazine. Our family have been giving to charity faithfully, so I rarely gave directly to people. This time I changed my mind and gave a few times, feeling that I was not doing the right thing and I could help in a different way. So, one day, I told her I did not want to give money anymore but could I help in a different way. I learned that she was here with her husband, that they were undocumented aliens, and they were truly struggling. I then proposed that she would clean the apartment I used as an office in exchange for me to review her case and to get them legal status in France. This arrangement lasted a couple of months. I passed the files to a specialized law firm. Their case was strong, so I felt I had done a good thing. Soon after, I learned they had move to the South of France. I learned through the law firm that they obtained their carte de séjour, and had a daughter. This was a happy ending nothing more to say.

It was this woman who was calling me to share that she had just been naturalized French with her husband and it was the last step to their complete integration after their two children, born in France, had been French for a while. I remembered her vividly, right away, as it was my very first regularization procedure I had completed. Then she told me that she manages a recycling center for a big corporation, her husband is a pastry chef, and her daughter is studying science at the nearby university in Strasbourg (the younger child is still in middle school). That second part of their life is another success story all around. I am so happy for them. All they needed was to get out from their undocumented status, and it meant finding the way to do it when they were stuck.

In my profession we very rarely get to know what happened once we win the cases, especially with the regularization procedures. This started with this woman and I have continued to help through the ministry of the church or just on my own. It is almost always helping through the struggle of obtaining a legal stay in France. So, when I believe that I can make a difference in these people’s life, I offer.

As a professional, making money is nothing more than earning a living. Whether I am paid or not is not the point, being instrumental in those success stories is for me priceless and it still gets me going with the same passion two decades later.

PUMA IS BACK ON THE NEWS AGAIN – MORE BAD NEWS COMING
This has been an endless nightmare, which hasn’t gone away and seems to get worse each time the French administration does something about it.

I fully admit that I have advised my clients who want to avoid PUMA to sign on to be self-employed in France since this registration comes with automatic health coverage and, therefore, blocks PUMA to be implemented. It has worked every time, since despite not trying to build a successful business, the billing was sufficient to keep them just paying on their French income.

This is just a proposed modification of the system, but as it is coming from the government, it is quasi certain that most, if not all of it, will be voted as a law. So, it would be wise to take these new conditions into consideration.

I will not be able to say anymore, “just sign and do not worry about how much you make. The only real consequence is that you will be kicked out of the auto-entrepreneur status if you do not invoice anything for two years in a row. This gives us some time to think of another plan if needed.”

Indeed, if the foreigner needs to invoice a minimum of 8.000€ over a year, it becomes for many, serious work, that needs to be advertised and building a real clientele. Some of my clients were and some still are cancer patients who managed to get treatment while being covered by the public system. For them and the others who will become my clients in the future with major illnesses, I will need to find another secure solution.

A member of AARO who is also a client of mine and has done excellent research on PUMA and has sent me this review of this project.
“Article 10 of the social security budget law, filed recently, proposes several changes to the calculation of the Cotisation Maladie Subsidiaire (CSM). Grosso modo these are:

1) The amount of revenue from professional activity that completely exonerates payment of the Cotisation Maladie Subsidiaire (CSM) will be doubled. Currently it is roughly €4000/year, so that will become €8000. This was to be expected, as people could rather easily concoct earnings of €4000 to escape the CSM.

2) The threshold of revenue from capital that triggers payment of the CSM will go from 25% of PASS to 50%. So, roughly, the CSM will not be due on the first €20,000 of capital revenue.

3) The CSM rate will go from 8% to 6.5% of revenue from capital exceeding 50% of PASS.

4) There will be a ceiling on revenue subject to the CSM equal to 8x PASS, roughly €320,000. Currently there is no ceiling.

5) The digressive calculation is changed. (See the new paragraph 5 of Art. 380-2)

6) These changes will apply as of 2019, for which the CSM is paid in 2020. [Apparently there is no attempt to make payment of the CSM concurrent with income, as for income tax.”

This means the challenges to the CSM charges for 2016, 2017 (bills will come at the end of November) and 2018 must still be maintained.

These can be on several bases, including that they were levied so as to be effective prior to "affiliation,” that the definitions of residence were not complete until the arrêté of May 2017 (and we have cases where affiliation was denied many months after that date, proving that affiliation results from an evaluation and is not automatic), etc.”

GILTI TAX
The Global Intangible Low-taxed Income (GILTI) is a new provision, enacted as a part of tax reform legislation. Mechanically, it functions as a global minimum tax and introduces a lot of issues for all U.S. shareholders of controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) – especially individuals and partnerships.

  • Applies broadly to certain income generated by a controlled foreign corporation (CFC).
  • “U.S shareholders” (as defined in the Code) are required to include on a current basis the aggregate amount of certain income generated by its CFC(s), regardless of actual repatriation.
  • U.S. shareholders who are domestic - C corporations (other than RICs and REITs) are eligible for up to an 80 percent deemed paid foreign tax credit (FTC) and a 50 percent deduction of the current year inclusion plus the full amount of the Section 78 gross-up (subject to certain limitations).

www.bdo.com/insights/tax/international-tax/the-gilti-effect-tax-reform-and-global-intangible

The concern many have is that the American self-employed people registered and living in France would be affected by this new legislation imposing even more fiscal obligations. It is not the case since it applies only to owning a majority shares of a non American company.

Also an equal split of shares does not create this obligation either because the American citizen does not meet the definition of a controlling a foreign corporation. In other word the American citizen shareholders do not own more than 50% in shares in the company.

TESTING THE LEVEL OF FRENCH FOR THE PREFECTURE
There are more and more situations where the prefecture demands a proficiency in French whether to ask for a basic carte de séjour as well as for the carte de resident and French nationality. For a long time, it was mostly checked during the interview. Lately the procedures demand holding a diploma but it is not enough, the civil servant can still consider that the applicant’s French is not good enough. So schools have followed this issue and are now licensed to test and issue the sort of diploma “test de connaissance du français (TCF).” The applicants 65 and older have no obligation to take this test and therefore show this diploma. Now the prefecture still tests the proficiency with a short discussion along reviewing the file.

OFFICE CLOSED FOR CHRISTMAS
The office will close for three weeks for the Christmas holidays, starting on Friday December 21st evening reopening on Monday January 7th morning. As always, I will be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters. The service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. I did not take much of a summer vacation so I have decided to take some time off, close to the normal length of my vacation. Of course, I will honor the prefecture meetings already scheduled, as well as a couple of other engagements.

OFFICE CLOSED FOR MY 60th BIRTHDAY
The office will close for slightly over two weeks for this occasion. It will start on Friday June 14th evening and will reopen on Tuesday July 2nd morning. As always, I will only be reachable by email for emergencies and important matters as I will be out of France. The service I offer of receiving mail for clients will continue while the office is closed. I have not figured out how I will send the July issue considering the situation.

Best regards,

CHANGE OF IMMIGRATION STATUS WHEN THE MARRIAGE IS OVER

QUESTION

My wife is an employee of a multinational oil company operating in Nigeria and was on expatriation here in Paris. When she got pregnant, I had to come and assist her. Her employer secured a carte de sejour for me with full work permit. Early this year I started work on CDD contracts doing odd jobs. My wife later had to return back to Nigeria for another assignment, leaving me in France, and filing for divorce. My permit is going to expire next year October and I will need to renew it on my own as I cannot have the help of her employer anymore.
I will like to know the following;
How can I go about the renewal?
What are my chances for a renewal?

UP

ANSWER

It is obvious that you need to request a carte de séjour on a different ground as your wife is no longer in France and you are no longer with her. The “private life” carte de séjour that you are currently holding indeed grants you all kinds of rights to work without having to ask for it with the French administration. So, the most obvious new ground could be your employee position. It is also one of the most scrutinized immigration statuses and therefore you must make sure your labor contract complies with the requirements.

Your job then must be such that the local branch of the DIRECCTE, which issues this right to work as an employee, will approve your request. Often people think that you need to prove that you are unique for the job in order to be approved. It is not that extreme but it captures what is at stake here. The office called Main d’Oeuvre Etrangère which is part of DIRECCTE, has a veto right based on the rate of unemployment in that job. Since close to all the jobs in France suffer some unemployment rate, this translates into a complete veto right. There are a few exceptions such as holding a French master’s degree, holding an APS, the job being mentioned on the “métier end tension” list, which are the jobs where it is very difficult to recruit. So, it is clear that you need a good job such a position, a salary at least monthly gross 2,200€, and proof of significant expertise as it is the only reason to keep you in France. In order to understand how important, the amount of the salary is I would like to identify three levels of income and their influence of the labor rights that they grant.

1 - SMIC is the French minimum wage
Gross monthly = 1.498,47 €
Gross yearly = 17.981,64€
This is the absolute minimum one must earn in France with a fulltime position.

2 - 1.5 time SMIC
Gross monthly = 2.247,71€
Gross yearly = 26.972,46€€
This is the advised minimum salary needed in order to have a decent chance that DIRECCTE reviews the request with a minimum of favorable impression. It allows the civil servant to be interested in reviewing the request for the right to work in France. Below that amount it then takes a true miracle to obtain this right, starting at that amount and above the chances of being approved are between fair to good.

3 – the salary amount to obtain the Carte Bleue Européenne
Gross monthly = 4.395,88€
Gross yearly = 52.750,50 €
This type of salary enables you to get a four-year card as it is a sub-category of the immigration status called “passeport talent’ named “Carte Bleue Européenne” and there you have 100% chances of success.

So, you need to get a true professional job which requires a serious expertise such that you have the best chances possible to stay in France.

So, since you are only getting odd jobs for short missions, you cannot hope to get an immigration status based on your employee track record or your latest job. I do not see much chances for you to stay legally in France. So, your only chance to do so is to get that good job otherwise you will lose your current immigration status without a doubt. Then it is either you leave or you stay as an undocumented alien. I am sorry to be the messenger of bad news.

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TEACHING ENGLISH IN FRANCE
QUESTION

I have received a few offers to teach for French companies, and each time I explain the limitation of my visiteur visa. One company asked me to apply for micro-entrepreneur status, after which they could hire me. My own research gave me the impression that, although I could apply for and receive a micro-entrepreneur number, such a designation does not confer the right to work and I would still be in violation of my visa. The right to work comes only with the appropriate visa. Is that impression correct?

UP

ANSWER

First, let’s look at what Brexit is: It is the decision by the UK to leave European Union. It has no legal consequences on French domestic issues – none whatever. The consequences strictly concern British people living in France and business exchanges between France and the UK.

You are right about one thing: once it is finalized, Brexit will affect the rights that British people will have in France. That is part of what is being negotiated now, and so far nothing is certain. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that British citizens will be deprived of their rights as Europeans and they will then be treated like American citizens when it comes to immigration, among many other things.

Next, let’s talk about who provides health insurance in France. The French healthcare system is almost totally regulated by a public system called Assurance Maladie. People pay into the system, either through an employer in France or via premiums paid while they reside in France, whether as lawful immigrants or as French citizens. A portion of the income related to retirement is excluded from the calculation of the premium, which is 8% of the remaining amount.

A tiny minority of foreigners living in France can choose to be covered by private health insurance. The insurance companies offering such insurance include British companies.

My conclusion is that there is no way Brexit as such can affect health insurance. Either the UK will retain some EU rights, and then, depending on how extensive they are, British coverage may apply in France as it does today. Or, if the UK keeps no EU rights, then British residents, like Americans, will have to choose from the solutions France offers.

Because of her medical condition and what seems to be a pretty severe pre-existing condition, I would make the calculation of how much the public sector and the mutuelle would cost, knowing that what is linked to hepatitis C should be 100% covered as an affection de longue durée (long, pervasive illness). If one of you works in France, then there should be no premium to pay, as the social charges would pay for coverage for the two of you.

Looking at all this, I do not believe you have any reason to think she will have difficulty getting health coverage in France.

Interestingly enough, the only scenario where you two could have some serious problems getting healthcare coverage is if British citizens end up maintaining full EU rights in France. This is because the French public coverage, previously called CMU and now PUMA, is not available to other EU citizens living in France for the first five years of residence; instead, they must rely on the health coverage of their country of citizenship – that is, unless they are employed; remember, EU citizens currently have an unrestricted right to work in France.

Therefore you can see that the fact that the UK is part of the EU has a negative effect on access to French health coverage. So let’s imagine that one consequence of Brexit is the collapse of the UK’s National Health Service. You would not be allowed to sign up for French coverage, but there would no British coverage.

If British citizens in France maintain full EU rights, however, including the right to work, the solution would be to immediately take the first job you can find, in order to be covered by the French public system.

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DISCLAIMER

Please forward this message to all those who would be interested in its contents. The information contained in this newsletter is intended only as general information. I strongly urge readers to seek professional guidance concerning the legal and tax matters mentioned. This newsletter is intended as a general guide and is not to be taken as professional advice.

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