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Hello!

My wife's US-based company has offices in Europe, and they are considering transferring her to Paris for a ~2 year period. We're not exactly sure what work contract/visa situation they will put her under (still under early discussion), but a big consideration to even be able to move forward are the questions of my own employment.

I like some information about the options/legality for telecommuting on a long-term visitor visa (which I assume is the visa that I'd probably be on). I work for a US-based company, with one small office in the UK, but there is no office in France. If possible, I'd still like to work remotely.

Would my company need to "set up" a French office? Or would I need to become an independent contractor? Both options don't seem like a fit, as a new office "set up" would be very cost prohibitive, and also my company has disallowed "permanent" freelancers. Could I just stay employed with my company from France, or would there be other disadvantages or legal implications for my company?

From a personal taxes standpoint, could I continue to have my US social security and income taxes withheld, then use the FEIE to reclaim that income tax and pay that back out as French income tax (since I'm making money while living there)?

We live in NYC, so there is a French consulate here. Is this something that I need to discuss with them first? Is it common to be allowed a long-term stay visa and be legally allowed to telecommute? From what I've read, the consulates and allowances that are granted can be a bit unpredictable...

Hopefully, I'm asking some of the right introductory questions here. I've only just begun to explore this, but I want to have some level of understanding of my options before my wife and I move forward with this and bring it up to my company. And I want to be completely transparent and legal with everything, as I, nor my company, want to mess around with any grey areas.

Any answers or additional advice would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!
 

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This is one of those really awkward things. Technically speaking, to work in France (and telecommuting is by definition working in France if you're located in France while doing the work) you must be properly registered with the various tax and cotisation agencies (i.e. the social insurances). It depends on the type of visa you have (determined by what type of visa your wife will be on) whether you are permitted to work or not.

However, for a truly "temporary" assignment, we've seen several folks here told by the consulate that telecommuting as you describe it may be tolerated. Though it seems to be primarily on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis where you do run the risk of some other agency (like the tax people) being considerably less tolerant than the consulate.

If you do manage to get a visa that gives you work privileges, the "cleanest" way might be to simply work as a contractor and thus registering your "business" in France. However that can get complicated if you are billing more than the AE (auto entrepreneur) limit - because then you get into VAT registration and the need to charge your employer an additional 20%.

There is an option for your employer to register an employee in France as long as they are willing to pay into the French cotisation system on your behalf. This can be a long shot, as the French cotisations are quite a bit more expensive for the employer than US payroll taxes.

And, I have known folks who just continue as "telecommuters" on the US payroll - reclaiming their federal incomes taxes via the FEIE. State taxes may or may not be reclaimable (some states don't even allow you the FEIE) and your employer may have to keep you enrolled in the State tax system. You should still declare the income on your French tax declaration (because if it isn't being taxed in the US, it IS definitely taxable in France). That may create questions about your cotisation status - but maybe not. Your employer may be able to help a bit with this option (as they could claim you as a "temporary" transfer where you remain on the home country social insurances). It may not be the easiest route for the employer, though.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I did this for a bit, as people mentioned, it's a bit grey but so is everything in France. I found an accountant who is a US cpa and also can do french taxes. not cheap but they know the french american treaty very well , i declared my income on both and pay taxes to France. i'm not saying there is no chance for problems, but things worked out for me. you get tax credits etc so you don't get double taxed based on the treaty.
 

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tobyr were you registered as an auto-entrepreneur? (or whatever it's called now)
At first, I entered as a visitor (non-actif), and worked remotely, filed taxes in France. I was surprised I didn't run into any problems. I'm not suggesting others to go this route as it is a bit gray, but it worked out for me.

Now I have switched my status so that I can have a business in France.
 

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My best advice is to talk to someone who is a professional. That's a company called Challenge & Co. They are an English-speaking umbrella company in France. Their website freelanceinfrance dot com. Goodluck!
 

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I did this for a bit, as people mentioned, it's a bit grey but so is everything in France. I found an accountant who is a US cpa and also can do french taxes. not cheap but they know the french american treaty very well , i declared my income on both and pay taxes to France. i'm not saying there is no chance for problems, but things worked out for me. you get tax credits etc so you don't get double taxed based on the treaty.
Hello, would it be possible to get their contact? And when you say « not cheap » what are we talking?
 
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