Tax Advisor in France
Thread poster: Martin Schefski

Martin Schefski  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Mar 24, 2017

Dear ProZ-Community,

I am considering to settle in France. Can anyone give me some advice on how to find a good tax advisor there? I would like to have someone who is at least a bit familiar with our special situation as freelance translators, because the legal aspects seem to become more and more complicated.

Can you also give me an estimate of how much I will probably have to pay?

Thank you so much!


Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:43
English to French
+ ...
Try SFT Mar 24, 2017

SFT ( is the national French organization for professional translators. I'm sure they can help answer your questions.

How much can you expect to pay? a LOT. After you have been there for some time, the acronym URSSAF will keep you afraid.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
French to English
Tax advisers, accountants and 'centre de gestion agréé' Mar 24, 2017

If you do move to France and you set up as a freelancer, there are a couple of solutions when it comes to legal structure and tax options.

You may find it helpful to join a "Centre de Gestion agréé". The first advantage of having one is a reduction in income tax, always worth having. Centres de Gestion tend to be specific to a particular profession or a particular sector (hotels and restuarants, butchers, bakers, etc.). There is no specific Centre de Gestion for translators, but many do exist specifically for "professions libérales", the status you will no doubt have once set up in business in France.

They are organised regionally. So you will find one for liberal professions in a town near where you will living.

Costs of joining vary from one Centre to another, but are likely to be a couple of hundred euros a year. Some provide a fair bit of advice with accounting and tax. others just take the money in and you have to content yourself with the abtement of 10% and nothing more.

If you think it helpful to have an accountant who knows about tax, he will charge you an hourly rate. The more you make him work, the more it will cost you.

Choix de régime fiscal :

One of the best things I did when I started out, was to go and see the tax office, not quickly over the counter, but a scheduled appointment. People overlook the fact that they do have an advisory role, and it's free!

Tax info is fairly easy to find out and as Sheila points out, what are really heavy in France are the "charges sociales".

[Edited at 2017-03-24 20:17 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Member (2007)
+ ...
Tax isn't necessarily very high at all Mar 24, 2017

As long as you do a100% move and don't keep income streams originating in Germany then the tax could be relatively simple and cheap. We only found we were hammered for tax once we left. They don't take desertion kindly icon_smile.gif.

On the other hand, the social security contributions were high. And the medical cover provided left you with 30% of most bills. I think the main problem, unless you're an autoentrepreneur, is that your contributions are guesstimated in advance and then adjusted in the next two years in line with reality. You can't hope to check the figures - you just have to trust them (hah, as if!).

I wonder if I'll see my small pension for 15 years' contributions, now that I live in Spain? I'm not banking on it.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
French to English
URSSAF Mar 24, 2017

JL01 wrote:

ow much can you expect to pay? a LOT. After you have been there for some time, the acronym URSSAF will keep you afraid. [/quote]

The URSSAF is not connected with taxation. It collects contributions towards social security and family allowance funds. The URSSAF is one of the organisations to which you will have to pay your "charges sociales".


Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
French to English
Taxes, social contributions Mar 27, 2017

Martin, it wasn't clear to me if you read or speak French... your choice of tax advisor may depend on the answer to that. Find an "expert comptable" that caters to "professions libérales" and speaks one of your languages. If you're fine with French, then try an AGA and/or go straight to the tax office as Nikki suggests.

If you do move your fiscal residence to France, then having an AGA is practically mandatory, they host informational/training sessions on accounting and fiscal matters, and can provide advice, in addition to their main role which is ensuring that your accounting is "coherent". My AGA costs around 200€ per year. My expert comptable costs around 600€ per year and he doesn't charge me by the hour when I call him with questions.

To give you a quick overview of what to expect if you settle in France:

Income taxes (impôt sur le revenu) will depend on your family situation (spouse, number of children) and other income you may have. Income tax is entirely separate from the choice of business status. You will pay income taxes no matter which business status you choose.

Business status - 3 main options:

1) Autoentrepreneur - the very simple and easy system with one major limitation - max gross income to remain in this category is around 33,000 €. In this system, you pay your social contributions on a quarterly basis to a single entity (instead of 3 entities), based on the actual amount you earned for the corresponding period. No deductions may be made for business expenses, a flat rate is applied. Under this status, you will also have to pay CFE tax (see below). No VAT returns (and you can't invoice/claim back VAT). You can look up more info on

2) Portage salarial - this is basically an umbrella company that "hires" you and sends invoices to your customers according to instructions received from you. Once they get paid by your customers, they pay all the social contributions on your behalf, take their cut, and pay you a salary. This has several advantages, you may have better social coverage/retirement prospects (women for example would have better maternity leave benefits than women on the #3 option below). You can have a "cadre" status to get additional retirement points. If you fall very ill and can't work, you would get better coverage than under #3 option. You don't have to bother with any of the administrative hassles of #3 either. But you lose a percentage of your income to the umbrella company.

3) BNC régime réel - the majority of freelance translators in France have this status.

In addition to income taxes, you will pay "Social contributions" calculated as a percentage of your net income (after deducting allowable business expenses). These contributions are paid in advance. In other words, right now in March 2017, my 2016 income is not yet known as the filing deadline is in May/June. So, I am paying estimated contributions based on my known 2015 income. Later this year, when my 2016 income is known, the payments will be adjusted, either up or down. You never really know how much you owe, that's what makes it difficult. 2015 was a bad year for me when I got hit with some big adjustments that I hadn't planned for.

Basically you have to pay the following three social contributions: URSSAF, CIPAV, RSI

You also pay VAT (or not, depending on where your customers are).

In addition to income tax and the above social contributions, there is another tax called "cotisation foncière des entreprises". This tax varies depending on your location, the amount is determined by each city. I think the minimum is around 150 € per year but it could be a significantly higher amount in big cities.

There are some other business status options of course but not many freelance translators use them... SARL, EURL, EIRL... these are "limited companies".

One last note about cities... there are two other taxes in France (unrelated to business and income tax status) - taxe d'habitation and taxe foncière. The amounts vary from city to city.


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Tax Advisor in France

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