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Bloomin’ taxes!

February 17, 2013

As soon as the internet was back up & running we discussed the house advertising with both agents and decided to make a small reduction in price to  boost the advertising catchment for on-line searches. We also made some significant wording changes, advertising it as a four bedroom with an office/5th bedroom and de-emphasising the size a bit. We added it to two other web-sites at very small cost and paid some small fees to the other sites to boost the ads to the top of the list each week. All this has resulted in quite a lot of traffic (from those websites which track it) but so far no enquiries. Everybody seems to agree that the buying season hasn’t really started but  assuming that most people seem to want their move completed by end of August; they would need to have made the decision and signed the deal by the end of May. I expect Easter will bring out the bunnies 🙂

Next job was to prepare the US tax return and, as we have a very simple return this year, I decided to use the free on-line software which is apparently now available for electronic filing for overseas residents. Actually completing the return took less than 10 minutes but it would not let me use the software to file unless I registered the (free) product with a US address. Several hours later having spent a frustrating afternoon with the online chat session they agreed to provide me with a free upgrade to solve the problem. Great, except the upgrade code didn’t work so another lengthy chat session got me a new code which did work. It still asked for the US address! Back on the chat line and it turns out that this requirement is for every version but no-one knows why. I ended up using my brothers’ address which at least got the thing moving. Then when I pressed “file” it showed up a bunch of errors on the addresses for the various tax forms, notably a 1099. It was rejecting them – even though it had populated the fields from my personal, overseas address, as being invalid format for zip code, state code and phone number. Back on the chat session – and several hours later they finally admitted it was a bug in the program and could not be used from an overseas address. Right on the page where you have to enter your personal details it says “Great News – you can now file from an overseas address” – lying idiots and it is clear they have never tested this feature. What has the IT industry learned in over 40 years – nothing!  I ended up printing it out and sending off by express post 😦

It is time for spring cleaning and we spent a couple of days buffing vacuuming, polishing, tidying up and washing all the tile floors. Also gave the living room parquet floor a refresher, place looks pretty good even if we do say so ourselves! Malcolm came as usual on Wednesday and brought his rotovator as planned. He turned over and levelled the area where all the stone slabs had been laid – an interesting exercise in uncovering things like tree roots and a bedspring frame! He sorted out the fire/compost heap and finally got started on the tree pruning we need done. Spring is really coming on, the hydrangeas and roses are starting to sprout, there are daffodils threatening to flower any day now and the trees & bushes are all showing new growth.

On Friday when we do our weekly shopping we went looking for a more local garden centre and found one just two miles from the Carrefour we go to. Tucked away on a small industrial estate it was fairly old but well-stocked and the staff were really helpful. We came away with bags of potting compost, grass seed, weed-killer (annual variety), algae remover and some special lawn weed-killer. That and five flats of small plants (pansies, marigolds etc) for the planter boxes and we are all set for the big spring clean up.

Saturday did not disappoint – sun shining, blue sky, little chilly but no big deal. June started on the planter boxes and I got the back-pack sprayer out. At 15 litres capacity this thing can get a bit heavy after while, three loads of anti-mousse and two of annual weed-killer and I could really feel the effect. A trip around the garden revealed that all the hydrangea cuttings Mme J helped us plant have taken, roses are starting to shoot, the trees are budding etc. We spent a couple of hours pruning and shaping roses, raking up old leaves and twigs blown by the wind. June planted out the boxes and we placed them around the patio and the drive, and she also re-did all the pots outside the front door. However, the grass is still too wet to cut, I’m hoping by Monday it will be dry enough for a first go – we have a new (English-based) estate agent coming on Tuesday so first impressions will be important.



Sunday dawned bright but very cold and, as we seem to have overdone it a bit on Saturday, we decided to rest a while before getting stuck in again. In any case, we are not allowed to use power tools on a Sunday so Monday will have to do. There is no rain in our forecast for two weeks, so I’m not planting grass seed just yet either.

We actually got two leads from the internet for the house, one is genuine the other the usual “I’ll send you $30 million to look after for me” scam. I cannot believe that people still fall for this rubbish after all these years; this scam was around before the web was invented!

Life goes on and we have both realised that we are really getting used to this house now that we don’t have to work on it every day and we can relax better. We have started to organise our shopping and get into a routine so we are eating better as well. However, it is too much house for us now so we do still have to move but we’re going to enjoy the next few months as best we can.



David & June

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2013 14:51

    HI – happy to hear things are going well for you and you have sunshine too. I was going to use Turbo Tax to file – that is what I used to use. I was an “Certified IRS tax preparer ” (so have been used to filing for years. However, I can see the problem as our zip is the same as San Antonio. The IRS have a free site also but it may not be for overseas. If I have to mail it so be it. Did you send Form TD F 90-22.1 to notify IRS that you have a foreign bank account? We’ll have to find someone here to do our french taxes as I have not a clue and they are apparently complicated. Enjoy all those lovely flowers – we only have snowdrops and croci so far.

    • February 17, 2013 15:06

      Hi Jo,

      The problem with the electronic filing is that somewhere in the process it converts the foreign address to US formats and then rejects it. I didn’t try any of the others, Bev was going to do some experiments. I read the TD F 90-22 stuff and decided it wasn’t necessary – there are some exceptions.

      Try filing your French taxes yourself – I got loads of help from the Hotel des Impots and it was really easy.



  2. February 23, 2013 16:52

    Hi – just reading this now as I was not informed that you have replied to it or maybe it goes to my Gmail acct which I never check. Anyway, will you email me with the Hotel des Imports info and I’ll have a look at the TD F to see if it applies to us. Thx

    • February 23, 2013 17:04

      Hi Jo,
      The Hotel des Impots is your local French Tax Office – if you look on you should be able to find their forms, main one is 2042 and you;ll need 2047 as well. The TD F form is on the US IRS web site along with its rules and exemptions – must admit I was being a bit optimisitic 🙂



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