Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A couple of days ago we received a letter in the mail from la Republique informing that we owed them several hundred Euros for a licence for a television we don't own, and residence tax. The latter is applied to anyone who was living at their current address as of January 1.

We were surprised by this, to say the least. French bureacracrats are the Spidermen of civil servants, able to produce streams of red tape at will, but they rarely make mistakes. So, we went down to the local tax office with the usual ream of documents - our lease, passports, copies of our lease and passports, cartes de sejour, banking information and a note from my Mom. The bureaucrat, upon seeing our lease was shocked that we had been sent this letter in the first place, and assured us that although she would need to generate the normal 5-to-10 kilos of etape rouge she was confident we wouldn't need to hand over our pound of flesh (0.45 kg of flesh chez nous) in light of the evidence.

Further inquiries among Amynah's co-workers clarified the mystery - apparently, if the apartment was empty of changed hands after January 1, the landlord is stuck with the bill. And it was the landlord that fills out the relevant forms that led to us being sent the tax notification. The theory - and even I'm not naive enough to believe that somehow a mistake could have occurred in triplicate - is that the owner of our building was hoping that he could stick the ignorant foreigners with his bill. I'm hoping that he'll get fined for fraud, but I'm afraid that all that will really happen is he'll be pissed off, and we can therefore kiss our substantial damage deposit goodbye (not that we had much hope of getting it back anyway).

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