Well, that went pretty smoothly, I thought. After a mix up over the rendezvous, which left me stranded in the foyer, waiting expectantly that the next time the door opened my name would be called (and that I’d recognise it), I managed to see the guy and it was all checked in 15 minutes! It was a bit of a close call: the shutters were about to go down and I was still sitting there but the guy was very gracious (I think he felt it was partly his mistake) and showed me to his office where he patiently took me through the forms.
I was worried before going in about my lack of French and his potential lack of English. While waiting I’d noticed there were leaflets in Spanish and Dutch as well as French (none in English though) and overheard some German speakers in the queue so felt sure they were used to dealing with non-natives, but to what extent? To avoid the embarrassment of him starting a proper conversation with me and my just staring blankly back at me my opening shot was very much, “Hi, this is my first tax return. But I’m learning French at the moment.” He asked me if I spoke Catalan. Er, nope. I said English, he smiled and said, oh dear, and from them on it was all about the paperwork which, despite looking ridiculously complicated, turns out to be fairly straight forward. As it was we muddled along with only one or two tricky moments of total incomprehension: thank goodness for Reverso and a good 4G signal!
All good, but it’s not quite done. At least now I have all the info I need to fill in the remaining boxes – once I’ve found the supporting paperwork – then the last job is to pop back to the office, join the lengthy queue, and submit it. Since it’s a pretty solid fined-if-you-miss-it kind of deadline attempting to post it seems like a bad idea. By going in in person I’ll have a receipt and will know for sure that it’s not sloshing around in some sorting office somewhere in France.
In future years I’ll be able to do all that online, however it’s required that the very first return is submitted on paper. One for me, one for James (if we were married our had a PACS then we would submit a joint one) and we’re done. It’s one of those easy when you know how jobs and I’m glad I decided to go down this route rather than do it myself. Of course my tax situation is pretty simple; I don’t have homes in or income from other countries, rental income, subsidies or grants for this, that and the other. I can imagine it can become a proper headache if that’s the case – but for anyone else who has relatively straightforward finances, I say definitely do it yourself. I had help from Kate (Admin Angel) in Esperaza, who went through the main part of the form with me and told me what I needed to get together, then just went in with my dossier of paper so someone official could check it with me. It worked well and saved me a good amount of money. I’ve no idea how much accountants cost here but in the UK I was paying £150 to have my tax return sorted out. I would assume it’s comparable here. All in all, a job well done. And testament to how far I’ve come in the last 18 months that I can now boldly march into the tax office for a meeting! Go me!!
(After writing and posting this I realised that the post I drafted while sitting in the waiting room and couldn’t find was published and not, as I thought, lost. I assumed it had been deleted when I leaped up from my seat to try and get someone’s attention before getting locked in. This one is the replacement – thanks for reading 🙂 If you read the other one, now deleted, you might be comforted do know that it wasn’t long until I found something to eat. I had an apple in my bag all along!