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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!
I am a US citizen and I currently have residency in Spain via marriage to a Spanish citizen. I work remotely for an US-based company and pay into the US Social Security system. I save for my own retirement, and I have private Spanish health insurance. Thus, I do not pay into the Spanish social security system or pay income taxes in Spain.

I would like to move to France and ideally maintain the same situation. Given my particular background, would I be able to apply for French residency? If so, would I be required to pay taxes of any sort, or into the social security system? Might my situation create any problems when trying to open a French bank account, rent an apartment, contract internet and phone service, etc.?

I've been doing a bit of research but as my situation is not quite so common I am no sure how to proceed. Thanks in advance - your help is much appreciated!
 

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To move to Spain, you could do so to join your EU national spouse - provided your Spanish spouse has a "statut" in France. Which means s/he would have to be working, retired with a pension, or a student in France.

As the spouse of an EU national with a statut in France, you would be able to work in France - but I'm afraid you don't get to choose where you pay into the social security system nor where you pay your taxes. It may be different in Spain, but in France if you are working in France, then you are subject to French income taxes and social insurances (social security). Where your employer is located is of no consequence. And, income taxes are paid on a "household" basis - so jointly with your spouse.

OTOH, you do have access to either the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and/or the Foreign Tax Credit so that you aren't being double taxed on your earned income. And, since you really should be paying into the French social security system (either as an employee or as an independent), you wouldn't pay into the US Social Security system.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To move to Spain, you could do so to join your EU national spouse - provided your Spanish spouse has a "statut" in France. Which means s/he would have to be working, retired with a pension, or a student in France.

As the spouse of an EU national with a statut in France, you would be able to work in France - but I'm afraid you don't get to choose where you pay into the social security system nor where you pay your taxes. It may be different in Spain, but in France if you are working in France, then you are subject to French income taxes and social insurances (social security). Where your employer is located is of no consequence. And, income taxes are paid on a "household" basis - so jointly with your spouse.

OTOH, you do have access to either the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and/or the Foreign Tax Credit so that you aren't being double taxed on your earned income. And, since you really should be paying into the French social security system (either as an employee or as an independent), you wouldn't pay into the US Social Security system.
Cheers,
Bev
Thank you for the info, Bev!

My spouse and I are separated and he does not live in the EU. So I guess that means I would not be able to apply for residency? With that in mind, with a Spanish residency I wonder if I would need a visa to stay in France longterm (as a non-resident)?

Since I don't know if I'll live in France forever, I would prefer not to pay into their social security system. Especially since I am required to pay into the US social security system no matter what. Hmm..
 

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Basically, yes, if you're not moving with your spouse, you would need a visa to stay long-term and work in France (or anywhere else in the EU, for that matter).

I still kind of wonder at your contention that you are "required" to pay into US SS - unless your US based employer is the Federal government, that's probably not the case. However, if that's how you have it arranged in Spain, then apparently it works for you there.

Just don't forget that in most European countries "social security" refers to the whole range of social insurances, including health care, disability and other benefits, and not just old age pensions (like in the US).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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If you are "working remotely" in France then you are classed as working in France and are required to pay all your taxes etc here in France The french tax authorities are more proactive than their Southern European cousins so you may want to take professional advice
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for the help!

To clarify, I work full-time for a single company in the US but I am technically self-employed. Thus, I am required to pay self-employment taxes. I'm not sure if I am allowed to post links here but if you Google "Foreign Earned Income Exclusion" and bring up the resulting page from the IRS, it will confirm this.

Re: social insurances, I already pay for private health insurance as well as freelancer's disability and life insurance, in addition to maintaining my own retirement account. Which is why I would really prefer to not have to pay for all those things two times. :)
 

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I work full-time for a single company in the US but I am technically self-employed.
In French law the differentiation between being self-employed and being an employee hinges on the existence of a "lien de surbordination", which can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Eg does the company give you instructions on what to do, how to do it and your pattern of working hours? Do they fix your salary or do you set your own fees? Can you subcontract the work to someone else when you want time off? If during your work you do something that has financial consequences (eg something that upsets a customer and leads to losing a contract), do these financial consequences impact directly on your or on the company? Is there a "dépendance économique", ie is the sustainability of your own business independent of the sustainability of theirs, so that if they go bust or if you stop working for them your business will continue, or is your business dependent on the company for its survival? Do you have a business plan, do you have a growth plan, do you invest in your business? It is difficult to see how a business with only one client is going to qualify as an independent operation with no liens de subordination. Claiming to be self-employed when there are liens de subordination is classed in France as "travail déguisé" or disguised employment, and can be requalified as employment by URSSAF.
 

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Thanks so much for the help!

To clarify, I work full-time for a single company in the US but I am technically self-employed. Thus, I am required to pay self-employment taxes. I'm not sure if I am allowed to post links here but if you Google "Foreign Earned Income Exclusion" and bring up the resulting page from the IRS, it will confirm this.

Re: social insurances, I already pay for private health insurance as well as freelancer's disability and life insurance, in addition to maintaining my own retirement account. Which is why I would really prefer to not have to pay for all those things two times. :)
I think you have mis-read the information on the FEIE. It is very possible to be "self-employed" and not pay the "self-employment" tax (actually just both halves of US social security) if you are properly registered in your country of residence as an independent business and paying into the local social security system. Don't know how that works in Spain, but in France, if you are "freelance" as you describe, you must register as an "independent" at some level - whether as an AE (auto-entrepreneur) or one of the one-person "corporations" but both forms of registration involve enrolling in the French "cotisation" system for health, retirement and other benefits.

Otherwise (in France, at least, though I suspect there may be something similar in Spain), there is a system whereby your employer could enroll to pay their share of your cotisations, given that they have no presence in France other than you working for them.

In any event, given the visa issues involved, I suspect that moving to France may not be a viable option for you under the conditions you mentioned. I would, however, look into what the proper set-up is in Spain for your telecommuting arrangement. Normally, if you're living in a country, you wind up being subject to income taxes and their social insurance system (at least within the EU).
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thanks so much for the help!

To clarify, I work full-time for a single company in the US but I am technically self-employed. Thus, I am required to pay self-employment taxes. I'm not sure if I am allowed to post links here but if you Google "Foreign Earned Income Exclusion" and bring up the resulting page from the IRS, it will confirm this.

Re: social insurances, I already pay for private health insurance as well as freelancer's disability and life insurance, in addition to maintaining my own retirement account. Which is why I would really prefer to not have to pay for all those things two times. :)
The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, however, relates to taxes in the US, not in France. (You will, of course, need to look at the US/France tax agreement.)

Should you move to France, in terms of taxes, the issue would be whether you are tax resident in France (I believe you would be). Being tax resident in France requires you to declare income earned in France and overseas, although it does not necessarily mean that all your income would be taxed. I haven't read the tax treaty, but as I understand it you would get credit for tax paid in the US against any tax payable in France.

I don't believe you can opt out of French social security contributions (see Euro Trash's post).

However, if you decide to apply for a visa for France, you would need to take into account both tax and social security contributions in France.
 

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I haven't read the tax treaty, but as I understand it you would get credit for tax paid in the US against any tax payable in France.
Just a quick clarification here - the tax treaty gives credit against US taxes ONLY for income taxes paid in France. Cotisations do NOT qualify for the Foreign Tax Credit (and actually, neither does the CRS/CRDS, even though it's paid along with your income taxes). If the French (or the Spanish) consider that you should have been paying the local social insurances, the fact of having paid US social security is no defense. (And I think there is a social security treaty between the US and Spain, as well as between the US and France - entirely separate from the respective tax treaties.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone for the detailed info on employment status, taxes and social security in France.

It'd definitely be lot more expensive than living in Spain (I did consult with my immigration lawyer to ensure that my Spanish setup is correct, when I first moved to Spain and applied for residency.)

Seems like it might be better for me to just save up enough to take a year off work to come stay in France on a study visa!
 
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