A Special Hell for Bureaucrats

I know. I know. I haven’t been keeping up with the blog as well as I might. Real life keeps getting in the way. We are currently in the midst of our latest head-butting practice having to do with my US house closing from the distance of France. I’ll leave that fun story for another time…suffice it to say, it involves multiple complications, strenuous efforts, and lots of walls, oh…and a trip to Paris!

During this latest trial, Stuart and I were both struck with a certainty that there must be a special hell for bureaucrats. In fact, we’re pretty sure what goes on in that hell.

* * *

[The bureaucrat arrives in hell which is disguised to look exactly like the gates of heaven. He approaches the front desk.]


“George Bureaucrat.”


“Proof? I don’t have any proof. I’m dead.”

“Sorry. I can’t let you in without proof. Here. Fill out this blue form.”

“Do you have a pen I could borrow?”

“Yes. That’ll be $8543. Cash or charge?”

“What for?”

“The pen.”

[moments later]

“Okay, here is my completed blue form.”

“This will never do. We need at least three copies…”

“Is there a copier here?”

“…three copies, that is, of your birth certificate translated into at least 5 languages.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“And I don’t see your parents’ signatures on here.”

“But my parents are dead. In fact, they’re probably here.”

“No excuses! I can’t let you in without their signatures.”


“You have another option.”

“What’s that?”

“Make an appointment for a signature exception.”

“Okay, I’d like to make an appointment for a signature exception.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that here. You’ll need to take the stairs down 567 flights, past the red tape, to the Signature Exception Department. They’ll be closed for the next six weeks, though. It’s vacation season.”

[Arrives at the Signature Exception Department and waits 6 weeks.]


“I need a signature exception please.”

“May I please have your stamp?”


“You were supposed to get stamped at the front desk upstairs.”

“I don’t…they didn’t…but…but…”


[Goes back up the 567 flights of stairs to the front desk.]

“I need a fucking stamp.”

“There are people ahead of you. Take a seat.”

“No! I demand a stamp now!”

“Fine. The stamp department is through that rotating door.”

“Thank you.”

[Goes through rotating door. Bureaucrat is now locked out in the freezing rain. Eventually, he finds his way back in again, gets his required stamp and goes back down 567 flights to the Signature Exception desk.]

“I need…”

“Oh, you again. Stamp? Let’s see. The next available appointment is 9 years and 37 days from today at 11AM.”

“‘Scuze me?”

“Do you want it?”

“What am I supposed to do for 9 years and 37 days?”

“Well, you can start on the application.” [hands over an inch thick packet]

“This is the application?”

“Well, it’s the first part.”

“You mean, there’s more?”

“Yes. That’s Part A, the shortest. There is also Part B, Part C, Part D, Part E…and a few others, but the worst by far is Part ZZZ. Oh, and this too. This just requires you to name all of your siblings.”

“I only have one brother.”

“By siblings we mean cousins…1st, 2nd, 3rd once removed, and twice, and third removed cousins as well. This will need to be certified by a notary…from Belarus…with an affidavit from the North Korean government. All parts must be translated into every known language on the planet including dead languages such as Latin, Akkadian, and made up languages such as Klingon and Ubba-dubby. This must then be submitted in triplicate, no staples, along with a four leaf clover.”

“And where am I supposed to get a four leaf clover?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t help you with that. It’s not my department. But when you find the right department, they’ll ask you for a recent photo…no more than one minute old. I have to warn you, they usually have a very long line. I’d bring a camera…and a printer.”

[So finally, our weary bureaucrat hands in all his paperwork after many years of struggle and toil.]

“Here. I’ve finished my application. Can I please go through now?”

“What is this?

“My application.”

“But these are the old forms. We can’t accept those anymore. Dear me. You’ll have to start again using the new forms.”

* * *

Something like that anyway.




More Bureaurcrazy

Wanna know something that sucks big time? As a US Citizen living abroad, not only am I still accountable for annual filing to the IRS, but as a self-employed (or soon to be anyway…or at least I thought) person, I must pay self-employment tax on my entire net income including royalties. This is regardless of the fact that I also will be paying tax in France. This would seemingly put me somewhere around the 30%or higher tax bracket. Cool, eh? Will the wonders of my bureaucratically poisoned life never cease?

I actually have to file taxes in two countries. Why? Because the US is such a “this one here’s trying to be independent and get away with it” screwing *&%@ard! They even have claims on any bank accounts my husband and I jointly own…or any over which I have signing authority. No wonder expats are waiving adios to Uncle Sam and becoming citizens of other countries!

On top of this, supposedly authors living in France are not allowed to have what is called autoentrepreneur status, with a simplified tax scheme and are actually taxed at 45%, paying into the system as if they had an employee. I have yet to confirm this, but so says the link. So 45% in France and 15.3% in the States leaves me with less than half of my income!!! This is insanity!

It is enough to make me scream and literally has…all day long…for two days.

Why can’t I just go about my business? Why is everything so god-damned hard? Why does my government only want to screw their citizens into conformity and slavery while spewing bogus platitudes about liberty and justice and the most laughable of all…free enterprise?

Sometimes, it feels like we just can’t win.


In continuing my panic-stricken research, I came across the site of CPA, Dan Nelson. He writes:

“An exception to paying social security on your foreign self employment income occurs if you reside in a country which has a social security agreement with the US. In that event you can elect to have your earnings covered by the foreign country’s social security (only if they have a social security agreement with the US), and not have to pay US self employment tax (social security).”

So now, I’m thinking though I’ll still have to file, I won’t have to pay the 15.3% on top of everything else…which is a huge relief…if it is indeed the case. However, I’m still confused. Will I have been in France long enough this year for all this to apply to me?


I just found an easy to understand PDF offered by GTN.com that explains, in plain English, US Foreign National Taxation.