We spent all of 2010 pet/house sitting, camping around France, and fighting various battles with French tax officers and the Cadastre (Land Registry) in Aurillac. It went on throughout the year until we received a letter from a senior tax officer called Madame Regine Cosson, she is based in Mauriac (15). What a wonderful person she is, and we have much for which to thank her.
We had received an unexpected taxes foncier and d’habitation facture from the main Tresor Public in Mauriac, a facture for a total of over €3,000, relevant to the years 2008 and 2009. It was a ludicrous situation, there was no rhyme and no reason to the figures, and I immediately replied to say so. I also requested a full breakdown of the payments made by Monsieur MA, on our behalf, and of the payments made directly by the two locataires. To this day, we have never received a breakdown, not even a bottom line figure!
Every time I wrote asking for the same information, we received yet another facture – with different figures! Eventually, after receiving a third facture with different figures, I took the bull by the horns and I phoned the Tresor Public in Mauriac. I find it much easier to speak French face-to-face, and to write French, than I do to speak with a French person on the telephone. But, the situation was really getting us down. We had estimated that we were actually in advance with our property taxes, very much so because we should not have been paying taxe d’habitation.
A young man answered the phone and I managed to explain my enquiry. He asked me for my telephone number and said he would investigate and phone me back. I thought that was that, yet another Gallic Shrug! So, Tom and I decided to drive to Mauriac the following day, to sort it out over the desk. Ten minutes later, the clerk at the Mauriac Tresor Public office phoned me back! I almost collapsed with shock! Very pleasantly, he told me the local Tresor Public office, in Saignes, had clawed back everything paid since 2007 to cover an outstanding water rates bill.
It really does take an enormous shock to shake the wind out of my sails! I should think most, if not all, of my family and friends would quite happily confirm that I can, without any difficulty, talk the hind legs off a field full of donkeys! I was totally speechless! After a rather long silence, the young man seemed to think out loud, he said, “That does not look correct to me, Madame.” He then told me he would speak with his superior, Madame Cosson, but he advised me to telephone Saignes in the meantime.
Having already had several skirmishes with the Tresor Public staff in Saignes, about the hairdresser’s water rates that she refuses to pay, I decided to have a cup of tea before making the call. How British is that!
But, before I could make the call, the young man at the Mauriac office phoned me again to tell me not to worry about speaking with the Saignes staff, Madame Cosson would be writing to us, the letter would be posted by 5pm that afternoon.
Three days later, our friend, Madame ZC, phoned Tom to let us know a letter from Madame Cosson had arrived at the house in Champagnac; we arranged to travel to the village the following day to collect it. It was a long journey for us to make to collect one letter, ie ten hours round trip, but that letter started the ball rolling that would eventually lead us to the Cadastre, and to evidence of yet more fraud that had been committed by our sellers. Tax evasion.