Thursday, May 31, 2007

Global warming and the environment

Jude, my wife, is planning a horse riding holiday to Canada with her sister Lib. This will involve a flight from London to Calgary. One of her concerns was the CO2 that the aircraft will pump into the atmosphere for the trip.

When you consider that aircraft CO2 is a small percentage of the total CO2 output of mankind, her trip is insignificant. In the UK there are many military aircraft that take off from and airfield, fly around for an hour or two and return to the same airfield, they burn up to 5 tons of fuel doing it.

Then there is the Tony Blair trip around the world that is happening at this very moment. He is not going anywhere for any other reason than to inflate his self importance. When he gets back he will jump into his polluting government car and drive around the country telling the UK population how they must cut greenhouse gasses. Do any politicians in the UK drive economical cars?

I would suggest that, if global warming is the issue that the UK government tells us it is then they should stop charging 17.5% tax on things like loft insulation. It could be that the global warming debate in the UK is just a way of taxing the residents and having an excuse to do so, they need the tax to fund the wars that they seem to get involved with. One thing that is a popular way of banging on about this subject is to damn 4X4s, especially those on the school run. I must point out that at 43 mpg, my 4X4 is less polluting than a 2 litre Ford Mondeo petrol! If the school runs are the problem then re-introduce the free school buses that the government got rid of.

The latest craze is to limit rubbish collections to once every 2 weeks, is that for any other reason than to save money? How many people will drive their cars to the local council tip, which could be 10 miles away, to dispose of the surplus? This will only add to CO2 outputs, but remember, it burns more fuel and earns more tax.

French Tax and UK registered cars

Today is the last day to submit the French tax return. The French system requires that worldwide income is declared on this very complicated set of forms. Some income from other European countries is taxed at source and will not be taxed again in France, an example is a military pension, which is taxed in the UK, but must still be declared in France if one is a resident and needs to file a tax return. This years return is for income from the year 2006. If you have lived in France for part of 2006, then you must declare for that part.

Many people think that because they pay UK tax in the interest from their UK bank, it does not need to be declared here, that is not the case. The UK tax can be claimed back from the UK tax people and French tax must be paid. I suspect that with the closer co-operation of Europe wide tax authorities, that these people will get caught out in the near future.

In France a married couple are not taxed as individuals, as in the UK, but as a unit. The personal allowance is doubled and the income of the couple is only taxed once that total is reached. This means that if only one partner has an income then both partners allowance will count before any tax is paid.

The other bonus in France is that one can claim tax credits for certain house improvements, one of these is the installation of a wood burning stove or solar water heating. 50% of the cost of the materials can be claimed back on the tax return. This encourages people to be environmentally friendly.

Many people that I meet here try their best to avoid something or other. The prime example is car registration. I see many cars out and about France that still have UK plates on them with a tax disc that is over a year out of date. I don’t believe that these people have an MOT either. Some buy French insurance and may put the car through the French equivalent of the MOT, but they are still not legal. To drive a UK registered car anywhere it must be UK road legal, and if you move to France to live then you have one month to start the importation process according to French law. Why do they do it? Because they think that they can get away with it forever. I am looking forward to the crackdown and hope these people will end up with huge fines and their vehicle confiscated.

I would advise anyone living here to seek professional advice on any of the subjects covered and take no responsibility for any inaccuracies in this post.