As the wheels of 2010 slowly turned, I began to feel quite depressed and bogged down with the sheer volume of paperwork, obstacles and worry that seemed to be never-ending. I was burning the midnight oil, writing letters, collating information, honouring my commitment to the forum moderating team, and putting together the facts of our house Case to create the main points for writing a book.
Never a big eater, and hating the texture of meat, I was by then living on cereals, cheese and crackers, and tea; I never seemed to have the time to eat a meal! In truth, I probably didn’t make the time! I lost a terrific amount of weight, there was more fat on a chip, and I started to feel quite unwell at times. Having Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and an historically ‘dicky ticker’, were obviously at the root of my general malaise. But, I had stopped taking medication for the diabetes and cardiac issues when we were becoming so short of funds towards the end of 2009, and I was so busy all the time during 2010, I begrudged the time to see a doctor.
Tom and I have both been seriously ill during our nearly 5 years of residency in France; living in a tent has certainly not been helpful, but, unlike Tom, I received the best medical care I could have had, although we had to pay for it all – but, that’s another story! However, in 2010, I really did begin to wonder if either of us would see the house Case through to the end. Tom and I were feeling very tired, but we were all feeling as though we were on a roller-coaster!
Something had to give, and family and I needed a positive boost to keep us focused!
We hadn’t heard further from the Bureau d’Aide about our legal aid application since we had received notice that we were “out of time”. However, in August 2010, we received a letter from the ECHR. We were advised to send copy of our forthcoming 2009 French Income Tax Assessment directly to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, in order that we could be considered for legal aid funding. That was the breakthrough we needed. In November, we posted the required copy document to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, our income tax liability was zero, we were below the threshold, as we knew we would be. By return, we received a demand to know how many French Benefits we were receiving, and how much money in total. It gave us quite a lot of pleasure to reply that we were not receiving any Benefits from the State, and we had not ever claimed any Benefits from France. Voila!
We have not heard since from the Bureau d’Aide, but the ECHR periodically sends letters to enquire if we have received communication from the legal aid office. Apparently, once we receive a legal aid award notice, our Case will be heard at the Cour de Cassation, in Paris, within six months to one year, at latest.
As that was going on, Madame Cosson at the Tresor Public in Mauriac, who had written to us earlier in the year, was making some headway on our behalf with the Cadastre in Aurillac; she was also ensuring that ‘historical’ income tax matters were being guided in the right direction towards full clarity! Two rooms, a garage, a part of the rear courtyard and a section of loft, that once belonged to the property we had bought, had been sold to the next-door neighbours, but the sale was never declared by our sellers, not to the tax man, not to the Cadastre. The property that we bought no longer has the dimensions for which we paid! On the plus side, our annual tax foncier has decreased by one-fifth! Sadly, there is no refund payable for the previous years! France doesn’t ‘do’ refunds further in arrears than twelve months.
In addition to that startling revelation, the (several) residential locataires who had apparently paid rent to our sellers had also not been declared to the tax man. Monsieur C, being the last of those residential locataires had, in fact, provided all necessary hard evidence of the tax evasion to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom, in December 2009. Even more of a surprise to us was the fact that another previous locataire of our sellers, a retired postman who still lives in Champagnac, had also given evidence against our sellers! That evidence was presented to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom in December 2009.
By Christmas 2010, all the fresh evidence of fraud and tax evasion against our sellers had been filed at the two Courts, ie the Cour de Cassation in Paris, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
2010 was a very long year for us all, and Madame Cosson certainly ensured the end of that year was looking much more positive for us than the beginning of the year.