Is it really so easy?“It’s so easy, and you can do it online in ten minutes,” she said. I was dubious; after all, this woman was a prospective employer with a desire to avoid paying my social charges.
Would this status benefit me? After all I am already a salaried employee of two organisations. I discovered that just like the English system it is possible to be simultaneously employed and self-employed (auto entrepreneur). Then when asked by another future employer to sign up, I bit the bullet and went to www.lautoentrepreneur.fr
Sitting in front of my computer with the necessary documents at my side, I clicked on ‘adherez au regime’ and chose to declare my activity. Without help, a basic knowledge of French is required.
From this point on, I was asked to state the nature of my activity and basic personal details. Confusion kicked in at the ‘declaration sociale’ section where you have the option to pay taxes monthly or tri-monthly. This is personal choice and there is the possibility to pay online directly from your account.
A friend pays her tax on a monthly basis online and she finds it works well. I however, chose the tri-monthly option and am sent a form on which I declare my income for the three-month period and send an accompanying cheque for 18.5% of my earnings.
You then need to choose a ‘regime d’assurance maladie actuel’; there is the option of ‘salarié’ or ‘agricultural’ or ‘other’. I chose ‘other’, although I later found out I should have chosen ‘salarié’, as I am, but that it doesn’t matter as you can then state in section (7) whether you are concurrently employed (salarié).
You are then required to choose an organisation with which to have ‘assurance maladie’. I hesitated, and in truly girly fashion chose a company called ‘mutuelles de soleil’ purely because ‘sun’ was in the name. Fortunately for my foolishness, I already have health insurance, but if you wish to use one of these companies, call to find out what they can offer you before making your choice. I was later advised that all these companies are alike and your choice here doesn’t make much difference.
The ‘Option Fiscale’ (8) section is important. The choice of ‘versement libératoire’ is the difference between paying full tax now or paying 18.5% and the remaining 2% at the end of the tax year. I chose ‘no’ because I didn’t understand it, but I will need to cover the difference later, whereas the friend who chose ‘yes’ pays the full 20.5% each month online with no hidden surprises at the end. It is important to remember which you opted for, as you will be asked when you come to pay.
A few more simple details and you are done, you can print yourself a copy. Not that difficult really. Even though I have a level of French, I enter a state of bewilderment when confronted with an official document. I put it down to fear of making a tragic error and being imprisoned for tax fraud, so far so good.
What I didn’t manage to escape was the subsequent influx of literature asking for money, notably from a company called ‘Reunica’ who sent me a series of letters headed ‘URGENT, VOS REGIMES DE RETRAITE COMPLEMENTAIRE OLBLIGATOIRES’. As a bureaucracy phobic English speaker, this could have convinced me to sign up. Don’t be fooled, a pension scheme is NOT compulsory, and ‘Reunica’ are middle agents for ‘Agirc et Arrco’.
If you do wish to start a pension plan, do it directly at www.agirc-arrco.fr, you have three months from commencement of business activity in which to apply.
Another disturbing correspondence I received was from ‘Inforegistre’, a single form requiring completion and a cheque for 215.28€. This is not compulsory either, but depending on your publicity needs you may wish to sign up to this online business register. Check it out at www.inforegistre.fr before making a decision, I decided not.
In conclusion, the process is fairly simple but I would have been grateful for some advise and tips as I hope this has given despite my naivety. Happy auto entrepreneuring…