registering self-employed in France
Thread poster: Emily Justice

Emily Justice
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Russian to English
May 13, 2004

I am a UK national currently working freelance in France. At the moment I am still paying tax and social security in the UK, but in a few months time I will have to set up officially in France.
I have heard that the social security contributions are pretty big in France and more worringly from my point of view, that you have to pay about 6000 euros in the 1st year and 9000 euros in the 2nd year.
Does anyone know if this is correct?
From what I can tell translation is classed as a profession liberale.


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Florence B  Identity Verified
France
Member (2002)
English to French
+ ...
Expensive but probably not that much May 13, 2004

Even though I can't remember how much I paid when I started..
See
http://www.motamot.com/zoompages/tab_cotisationsoc.html
There is a simulation there
http://www.canam.fr/docs/module.php


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Emily Justice
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
can anyone else help? May 13, 2004

Thanks for that - I don't really understand all the different categories though...
Really what I am worried about is the payments in the first 2 years. Does anyone know where I could find out this information from?


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Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:56
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
I'm sure it's less than that May 13, 2004

I've been freelancing in France for a few years. In the first year you pay fixed rates for people starting out, which I would say are lower than most people imagine. You have to pay three social security contributions. These are "URSSAF", additional compulsory health contributions and additional compulsory retirement contributions. The current "URSSAF" contributions are set at about 1,000 euros for the first year, the other two are less. You pay these contributions quarterly, which allows you to spread out the cost. I found it less expensive than I was led to believe.

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Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:56
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
The second year theoretically costs more May 13, 2004

In the second year, the contributions you pay will be based on your income during the first year, so assuming you do reasonably well you should expect to pay more than you did in the first year, but still nowhere near the 9,000 euros you mention, unless of course you do extremely well!

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Emily Justice
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Very helpful May 13, 2004

Dear Paul,
Thanks very much. That is very helpful. The 1000 euros you mention for the 1st year - is that the 1st ever year?

Could you advise me who I should talk to? I was going to go to the URSSAF office tomorrow.

Seeing as you obviously know the score here, any chance you could tell me what the tax is like? I know that it is paid in arrears but have no idea how much it would be.

I really have to weigh up whether it is worth setting up here for the long-term or whether I should go back to the UK where being self-employed is so much cheaper.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
French to English
what I paid May 13, 2004

Hi - I see no reason to keep this a secret. I registered as a prof lib in Feb 2003. For the year to Dec 2003, I paid a total of 1817 EUR in compulsory, fixed rate contribs for pension, health insurance and URSSAF.
You're allowed, of course, to deduct this from earnings before they decide your taxable income.


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Buzzy
Local time: 08:56
French to English
First year charges in 2000: about 2050 euros May 13, 2004

Hello,
2000 was my first year as freelancer in France and a quick look at my accounts shows that the compulsory charges I paid totalled around 2050 euros. (This included URSSAF, "caisse d'assurance maladie" and CIPAV - pension-type charges). (It did not include a "mutuelle" which is of course non-compulsory).
I had a good first year as I was fortunate enough to begin with client contacts ready, and that meant the next year these charges went up significantly - thus reducing profit for that year, which meant the following year I got amounts refunded... what I seem to remember a fellow Prozian calling the "concertina" effect. You do need to plan ahead with this system!
But I agree with Paul that the charges were really not as bad as I'd been given the impression. Looking at it from a UK point of view, you could argue that the normal French health coverage is equivalent to having a private health plan in the UK. (There are also maternity benefits, although sickness coverage can leave a lot to be desired as an "indépendant"). It's not always just about the amount you pay, it's what you get in return too.
Re taxes, that can vary widely according to your personal situation, number of children, etc... it's worth trying to forecast your earnings and doing a simulation or two, I know more than one Brit who has been surprised (and pleased) to find that they pay less income tax here than in the UK. But this has not always been the experience of single, childless taxpayers... (in my own case, as a family with three children, we are no doubt better off over here taxwise).
Finally, you must remember to set your rates at a sufficiently professional level to reflect/offset all these outgoings.


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Emily Justice
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:56
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Extremely helpful May 13, 2004

Dear Buzzy and Charlie,

Thanks so much for your help. With my as yet pretty poor French it would have taken me a while to have found that out talking to the French authorities. I agree that I need to work out what I should be able to earn and go from there. I've only been working as a translator since last summer so it's kind of hard to tell, but I do need to take a good hard look at my position.
I am married which I have heard should help my tax position especially as my husband isn't working.
Thanks again!


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Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:56
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
First year/ tax May 14, 2004

Yes, the thousand euros I mention are for the first ever year. You would need to register as a freelancer at the local chamber of commerce, you will then receive mail from the various bodies. You should be aware that many different organizations will contact you including the URSAFF. For the additional compulsory health contributions YOU have to choose which organization you want to belong to from the many who will write to you. For retirement, you will almost certainly need to become a member of the CIPAV organization for additional compulory retirement contributions. This is because they have certain types of professionals assigned to them, and translators fall within their "jurisdiction", as it were. I am lucky enough to have a French friend who is an accountant and knows the ropes. Feel free to email me if you wish, it is not as complicated as it sounds. Hope this helps!

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