American moving to France for grad school, working remotely?

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American moving to France for grad school, working remotely?


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Old 15th August 2019, 05:38 PM
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Default American moving to France for grad school, working remotely?

Hello all!

I am in a delightfully bizarre situation that neither the Consulate, my employer or my school know what to do about. Everyone assures me it'll work out fine, but... I am fearful of French-American bureaucracy.

Here's the basic situation:

Me. 25-year old. Born in France and moved to the USA when I was 3. My parents and I are all natural born French citizens. We have all become naturalized American citizens as of 2013 (me) and 2016 (them). I have not lived in France since I was a toddler, but do hold a French passport and birth certificate.

My school. I've been accepted into an MSc program at Grenoble Ecole de Management. As a result, I'll be moving to Grenoble on Sept 1st, and will live there for the next two years minimum. I already have an apartment lined up, facilitated by my school.

My work. For the past 2.5 years, I have worked full-time for an American-based NGO with a plethora of international employees, though all based in either USA or Madagascar. They are supportive of my studies and want me back after I finish. I will continue working remotely at 50% time during school to support myself and stay connected to the organization.

My biggest question is... HOW SHOULD I FILE TAXES?

I think I have a few months to figure this out, as I will definitely be filing for 2019 in the U.S. My understanding is for September through December, I should stay on the American payroll and pay into that system normally. But do I need to file something with France for 2019 to say I'm doing that?

As for 2020, that's where I'm really not sure. Do I continue on the American payroll and file as an American? How does that affect my public benefits in France? I could probably find my way into a private insurance situation paid by my work, if need be.

Or do I switch completely to the French tax system for 2020? In theory, my organization's payroll provider could set up a French payroll for me without a huge amount of hassle. But I'm worried that taxes for myself and my employer are going to skyrocket if we do that... Will that be worth the access to French social benefits?

Thank you all in advance for any wisdom you can offer!

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Old 15th August 2019, 07:39 PM
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Users Flag! Originally from usa. Users Flag! Expat in france.
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Actually, working half time as a student shouldn't pose any real problems.

The deal is, however, that you are working in whatever country you are physically located in while doing the work. So technically, your work from September to December 2019 is "working in France." The good news about that is that you can start counting your time as "physically present" in France from September 1st, and thus the money you earn from September to December should be "excluded" from taxation by the IRS (assuming to take the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion using form 2555).

OK, the tricky part is that by working in France, you need to pay tax there on your income starting with September 1st - and at the same time you should be paying into the French cotisation system. So, if your employer can put you on their French payroll as of September 1st, they should do so.

There is a mild complication in that you can't claim the FEIE until you meet the physical presence test, so you'll have to file for an extension to file your US tax returns until after September 2020 - but that's actually fairly easily done.

On your French declaration, you'll indicate your "change of address" as of September 1st 2019 - and only declare your worldwide income starting with the date you moved to France. Then for 2020 you'll file both US and French returns/declarations, claiming the FEIE to remove your "foreign" income from taxation by the US.

Take a look at IRS Publication 54 for details: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p54

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