Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Excuse Me for My Lateness

Here's a well-known travailleur indépendant's joke:

Two men are driving in the middle of the desert and the car breaks down.
: Oh dear. We've run out of gas. We don't have any cell phones, food or water. We're going to die.
Passenger: Did you send in your URSSAF payments?
Driver: No, why?

Passenger: Don't worry. They'll find us.

I don't know one independent in France who hasn't received one "rappel de cotisations" (translation: reminder of payment due). If you:
1) move,
2) go on vacation in August,
3) don't send your cotisations registered,
4) don't call the offices every hour of the day to make sure your check / TIP arrived safely,

then you will receive, at some point, a "rappel de cotisations."

I'll never forget the day I arrived home to find a letter from CIPAV (retirement):

Date: 28 septembre 2007
Vous êtes redevable d'une somme de 16,651.00 euros, au titre du régime d'assurance vieillesse de base, et de l'invalidité-décès que nous vous invitons a régler avant le 30 novembre 2007.
Veuillez agréer, Madame, l'expression de notre..."

I'm not a fainter. But on September 28th 2007 I sure was! Pay up 16,651.00 euros in two months!! Were they out of their minds?
Turns out, they were.
URSSAF didn't inform CIPAV of my existing company. So, for two years, I hadn't been sending off the required payments for retirement. Whoops?
Discovering this, I sent CIPAV a friendly note saying: "Hey, fellas, I'm ready to start paying you." To thank me, they send a bill the size of a downpayment on a McMansion.

There's a happy ending. My accountant, let's call him Mr Miyagi, informed me that government agencies, such as CIPAV, churn out false "rappel" on a daily basis to spook unsuspecting business owners into thinking it was the business owner's fault. Again, it's URSSAF's job to touch base with CIPAV. In my case they didn't. In my case, and in many other cases, I'm slapped into thinking it was my fault.

In the end, there's no need to ask your doctor to up your prescription of valium. Take each rappel in stride. And remember what each of our students whimpers upon arriving 15 minutes after the lesson started: "Please, pardon me for my lateness."