So, I've opened a small individual business- 7 minutes reading time
Last December, I’ve created a small indvidual enterprise regarding my writing side activities to declare my incomes aside from my main job. It’s a very simple status that does not require too much administrative formalities. Because in France, we love administrative formalities. This status is called “Entrepreneur individuel”, or “Individual business” (I think that’s a good translation), and is regulated by a very simplified accounting rules to facilitate the access to business activities for people. And it’s free of any charges compared to the other companies structures that would ask to pay some fees for the constitution.
Actually, that’s what the naive past me thought.
At the very beginning of my writing activities, and also the commissions I’ve proposed on Ko-Fi, I was wondering how I should declare these incomes to the taxes. For this, I’ve reached them during previous November. Meanwhile, I’ve searched by myself and found my answers. Which was a good thing because their response arrived two days ago, at the end of January.
Anyway, to register a new Entreprise individuelle, you just need to have an ID card and fill a form on the INPI website. The INPI - Institut National pour la Propriété Industrielle - is the administrative authority that manages the industrial property such as patents and trademarks. It also hosts a single administrative entry point for business formalities. So in just a couple of minutes, and with the help of various sources to understand the meaning of the numerous cryptic fields such as this step-by-step tutorial, after providing a copy of my ID card and signing the document, my procedure was submitted. Even one of the best entrepreneur’s friend, the Urssaf, - rises a ‘sarcasm’ panel - provided a good procedure.
Registering the enterprise at the INPI website was the easy part.
Reading the step-by-step from the Urssaf, I was supposed to receive my company registry number (the SIRET in France) and an affiliation notification. For a quick explanation, the Urssaf is the organisation in France that recovers the social taxes enterprises must pay to contribute to our social system, such as retirement funding. Once you’ve opened a business, you’re affiliated to one of its regional entities and declare your incomes so they calculate how much taxes you would have to pay. And they’re good at it.
A little too much actually, but we will see later.
At first, I was worried that I’ve received no mail. I mean, the 20th Century mail, you know, with paper.
But after reading again the validated business constitution document, I’ve seen the SIRET being directly emitted. “I suppose that’s why I’ve never received any paper”, I thought at this moment. A good thing, actually. But regarding the Urssaf affiliation, nothing.
First, I was worried about my home address. I’ve moved to a new home recently and the neighbourhood is brand new. So, I was afraid the mail to be lost because the mailman would not be able to deliver. At the beginning of the month, I’ve called the Urssaf. After a big struggle to find this information… For a writer, you don’t depend on the regional entity but on a specific one. I’ve been able to get their number by calling the national one.
The guy that answered me on the phone was quite nice and explained me the procedure, very clear and concise. I could wait forever my mail because they never sent any. I’ve had to send one myself with a paper form and a copy of my ID card to request my accesses to the declaration portal. That’s definitely not what I understood by reading the procedure…
A couple of days later, a Friday, I’ve received a mail, an e-mail this time, with the link to activate my space on the Urssaf portal. It was important for me to do it as soon as possible because I’ve had to regularise my 2023 incomes. Not that much, but that’s still a something and I didn’t want to put myself in a bad position. The French tax administration fraud fighting services are not for show.
After a couple of struggle to create the account, it didn’t worked at first try, I was on the portal.
I clicked on “Declare” to tell what I’ve earned. No form, nothing, I can’t declare a thing. I was confused.
Then, I checked on “My contribution” to see if there’s some information.
At this moment, my first impression was : what the fuck ?!
I was expected to pay 380€ with a deadline fixed on Monday. It was Friday, 19’o clock. Yeah, no luck, the quarterly payment period ends at the middle of the 1st month… Almost the day I received my access.
Before panic, or maybe I was already, I’ve checked another item taking about “modulate my contribution”, an interesting choice because my small business incomes were clearly not related to this amount. It was a standard contribution level for people who didn’t declared their incomes. But I can’t do it on the website !
The modulation screen asked me my tax profile (a technical term regarding the non-commercial profits) and an estimate for my 2024 incomes. I’ve made a quick projection and they calculated an estimate of 0€ for my contribution. Obviously, because the incomes are very low.
Going back to the contribution screen, the amount didn’t changed and I was still expected to pay 380€ until two days or I would be under a recovering procedure with an increase penalty. Feeling the knife on my throat, I’ve payed.
Confused, I’ve reached by e-mail the Urssaf and got my answer the next week. The writers declare once a year their income in February… Good to know. I which I would had because I’ve found no information about this specific case.
The same week, I’ve received another nice e-mail, from the tax administration : a formal notice to comply within a month because of an undeclared document regarding the business premises.
What the fuck ?! - again.
One of the several taxes a business must pay - did I said we love taxes in France ? - is regarding your company’s office, for the property taxes. Since it’s a small individual business and I have no dedicated room to this, unless my couch would count for it since I mostly work on it while writing, I’ve made the declaration in a simple way - and thanks again for another website explaining the cryptic form - and should not pay any taxes on this hopefully. But being assigned like this was not a very welcome move…
After sending them the document, by e-mail, the tax administration explained me in return this form has to be filled every year on November for the current year. I’ve created the business in December… Thanks for telling me, but the pointed gun wasn’t necessary I think.
So far, I thought I was good. Until today when I received a supplementary contribution paying request from the Urssaf for 2023 incomes.
Based on the standard default levels because I still could not declare the actual incomes, minus what I’ve already payed. So I’ve had to pay 86€, again.
Race results, for around 50€ incomes since September from this side activity, to be an honest guy and declare them to the tax administration, I’ve had to create a small individual business. And following that, I’ve had to pay 466€ because it’s not yet possible to tell how much I’ve actually earned yet. Of course, they will refund once the declaration is done. Hopefully.
The only thing I can tell is that’s a kind of cold shower. Despite being a Freelance in my main job, I don’t have a business of my own. I’m using a status called “portage salarial” which is a job approach allowing freelances to sign a work contract with a specialised entity that will manage every administrative part, like an actual employee in a company, and send a salary in return. Back on the day I’ve started to be Freelance, they said it was a good start and later I could create my own company and stop this approach.
Well, regarding this experience, no, I think I’ll stay in portage salarial for my main job. Too much worries with the administration, paying someone to manage this - since they take a commission on the invoices billed to the clients, obviously - is good for my peace of mind.
Following this experience, I must say I admire the business owners in France. Of course, they have an accountant who manage all of this, but for an individual small business, it’s too expensive so you’re on your own against an administration that thinks you’re a villain by default. I like our social system, despite being far from perfect, it’s a great system IMHO. But the organisations that manage their funding collect should just be more human.