Author Topic: why continue to work?  (Read 4031 times)

psychomoustache

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why continue to work?
« on: March 06, 2013, 10:29:50 AM »
If some of you have been following my self-important mini-saga... (no I forgive you if you haven't been...!)

Let me do some complainy-pantsing first, then  I'll think - promise  ; ) - with your help I hope too.

For the past seven years, I have built up a private psychotherapy practice with my American degrees here in this small French town. I found a niche for myself because I worked a lot with eating disorders in the States - here there was no one specialized in it - I saw my chance and took it.

Flash forward seven years - I have a nice healthy practice that started to earn me decent money in 2011.

I recently found out - just about the time I found this site - that the French government is hereby going to make me pay a VAT tax on my gross earnings of about 20%. This is because I have American diplomas, so therefore I'm not considered a health-care provider in this country, but have the same status as a masseuse or "coiffeuse" (hair stylist) or whatever.

Yes, I considered going back to school here in France. Yes, I even tried it. The nearest psychology degree available to me is 2 hours away, and no, beyond the first year, there is no distance-learning option. I have a full private practice, that would have to stop in order for me to go back to school and get the psych degree. For how long? About four years, plus internships.

My problem today - since I've learned this news, and found out I owe back taxes to the tune of 10K euros-ish, and know that my fellow colleague-psychologists (doing the same work as me) are getting paid 20% more from their work - well it's kind of like the bottom has dropped out for me, and I'm feeling, REALLY REALLY unmotivated to keep working. I had been making, up to this point, about 800 to 900 euros a month that we took for my salary. We've reduced it to 550.

 But the other side of it - last month, for the first time like - Ever - we not only managed to live only on my husband's salary (thanks to this site!), we also saved 1000 + euros ! (A euro = 1.30$ for the uninitiated) So we saved the teeny bit I took out of my practice, AND saved some of his income as well.

OK - so I am going to continue to make a tiny income out of this practice - but now it feels to me that the effort and cost in terms of time and care - lost Saturdays, difficult - (very difficult) - patients - what used to be par for the course and OK with me - now no longer feels okay, since I know I'm getting 20% less than people doing the same work. I am keeping kids out of the hospital (anorexics) and saving the State a lot of money - but it doesn't matter... it's really, really infuriating. Yes, I was misinformed about the tax law when I began this practice, though we did "everything right" in trying to get information on how to set up the business. Those people today say to me "it was YOUR job to know the tax law!" Well - that's why we went to see THEM!

I have been so distracted and upset - after seven years of intense training and focus - that I wonder if I can keep up the motivation and concentration required for my work. I see  also that Applied Mustachianism makes a lot more happen than my work!

That's where I'm at today. I am in a child-analysis training program currently, and have another two years left. I also want to finish my own personal psychoanalysis - but it's hard to think that now these are no longer the investments in potential earnings for the future that they were when I signed up for these things... I'm basically in a self-supporting hobby now.

I'm kind of disgusted, and it's not going to be good for my patients.

You can slap at will, I can take it. Thanks for your thoughts.

Left

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 10:57:19 AM »
can you become a school counselor or teacher (teaching psychotherapy, not sure what to call it) there? I mean I could see other possibilities with your degree/skills outside of the clinical setting, just not sure how it translate in terms of French regulations

Or could you grow the practice, take in some partners to do the actual practicing and just do the paperwork/managing. Not sure if this is enough to take you out of the "provider" role for the tax laws

KGZotU

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 11:04:01 AM »
You've talked about the finances of the dilemma in terms of external validation: the state doesn't care; other people get more money than you.

To comment, we need to know whether you care about what you do, whether you're getting enough money from it.

Honestly, it sounds like you have a tough job. And if you need that extra 20% to make it worthwhile, that's fine. On the other hand, if you're fulfilled by your job and the pay is enough, then the external validation issues are something you can work through.

mustachecat

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 11:11:31 AM »
What if you did work with American clients over Skype? Would you be able to sidestep French taxes then?

Jimbo

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 11:20:29 AM »
Hike your rates 24%, thus having the same money as now for an hour.

Some patients will leave, some will stay, and then build up the practice to get more people in, if possible.

Side bonus: work less hours, at least at the beginning.

Good luck.

Forcus

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 11:30:33 AM »
Hike your rates 24%, thus having the same money as now for an hour.

Some patients will leave, some will stay, and then build up the practice to get more people in, if possible.

Side bonus: work less hours, at least at the beginning.

Good luck.

Bingo.

psychomoustache

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Re: why continue to work?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 12:48:32 PM »
Hey everyone thank you for your replies...

can you become a school counselor or teacher (teaching psychotherapy, not sure what to call it) there? I mean I could see other possibilities with your degree/skills outside of the clinical setting, just not sure how it translate in terms of French regulations

Or could you grow the practice, take in some partners to do the actual practicing and just do the paperwork/managing. Not sure if this is enough to take you out of the "provider" role for the tax laws

Thanks for this suggestion - the answer is "no", the system is really very, very different here. I am not allowed, with my American degrees, to work in any institutions in France. That being said, I do teach at the nursing school, though I'm not "supposed" to officially. There is no reimbursement health-insurance-wise for psychotherapy.

 
You've talked about the finances of the dilemma in terms of external validation: the state doesn't care; other people get more money than you.

To comment, we need to know whether you care about what you do, whether you're getting enough money from it.

Honestly, it sounds like you have a tough job. And if you need that extra 20% to make it worthwhile, that's fine. On the other hand, if you're fulfilled by your job and the pay is enough, then the external validation issues are something you can work through.


Yes, this is really true - I am actually going through this right now - working on no longer needing the *external* validation - and trying to know if - (exactly) - *I* feel like I'm getting enough money for it. And the answer..."meh" as the word is these days.

Considering the amount of time one needs to put into constant reading, supervision and the like - even though I love the intellectual challenge - this is not satisfying ENOUGH today to take a 20% across the board cut (for the rest of my working life).

 But - as you say, I am working through it too - because on the other hand there's a demand for what I do, and the work is SO much better than being an English foreign language teacher (for me - have done that too). So no , the pay isn't enough, yet the job *is* fulfilling. And yes, I'm thinking this through (a lot...)


Hike your rates 24%, thus having the same money as now for an hour.

Some patients will leave, some will stay, and then build up the practice to get more people in, if possible.

Side bonus: work less hours, at least at the beginning.

Good luck.


Cool idea, and have had some people make this suggestion. I have already hiked my rates some since I got this news, and maybe, as time goes on, I will push up even higher. Right now, I am feeling a bit stuck b/c I'm still paying for my training programs - and need to have a good cushion to finish up. But true enough, when these are finished in hopefully two to three years, I can work less - and make the SAME AMOUNT because of the way the law is set up. If I make anywhere over 33K euros a year, I am taxed on the 20%. So I just have to stay under income ceiling.

I am finding Mustachian-ism, and all the creativity required to grow a good mustache - pretty damn challenging and stimulating too - so I would like to work less and groom my facial hair  ; )


What if you did work with American clients over Skype? Would you be able to sidestep French taxes then?


Interesting idea - I have (duh) let my American licensure go...but I can look into this. Pourquoi pas...

The thing that is funny/sad that everyone is telling me around here - "try to get paid in CASH". For the past seven years, when I was occasionally paid in cash, I dutifully submitted my enveloppe to the bank like a good girl and declared it. You can denounce me to the authorities if you want, but I am no longer going to declare my cash revenues. The under-the-table economy flourishes here, like it does in Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.  As my optimistic best friend said today (and she's American too, lives here too) "they DRIVE us to it - no one can get ahead here!" I told her that thought was very Un-American, and we agreed both that we've been here toooooooo looooong. [sigh]

Merci tout le monde.