I had been vaguely aware that I was paying social charges for "formation" for a number of years and somebody had mentioned that you had a right to a certain amount of training each year, but I never really thought much about it. Then one day a marketing email from a random training company caused me to wonder. I googled it and set up my account on the government training site moncompteformation.gouv.fr. And when I got in, I discovered that I had nearly €2500 to spend on training. You can spend this on anything you want, as long as there is a government approved course to do it. It doesn't have to link to previous training or occupation. If you fancy using it to learn to be a pilot or make cakes you can, even if you are currently an electrician or keep the company books.
I've been living in the Pyrénées Orientales region of France and running my own business for over 10 years now. Initially it was as an employee of my own English limited company - registered as an "entreprise étrangère non établie en France" (a foreign business not established in France) and subsequently with a secondary activity as an auto-entrepreneur in France. At the end of 2017, I took the plunge, moved my UK clients across and changed from the micro-entreprise system of quarterly returns and social security deductions based on turnover to the "régime de la déclaration controlée" where I pay social security based on my actual profit the year before. However I still get to grapple with the micro-entreprise system as my other half is registered with the Chambre de Métiers as a handyman and I do his paperwork.
It occured to me that my struggles with French bureaucracy might be of help to others, so I've decided to start this blog - it will be a mixture of "how to" articles as I go about the business of doing my books, filing returns, paying contributions, tax etc., and anecdotes on the travails of running a business in France. I hope you find it useful. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any comments or questions.
Although no longer an autoentrepreneur, I still do the quarterly returns for my other half who hates paperwork, and I thought it might be useful to do a quick run through of the process, so here it is.
I have spent years grappling with the finer details of French business administration and the intricacies of French bureaucracy in everyday life. I have also filled in forms, made phone calls and accompanied lingustically challenged friends to meetings for all sorts of different reasons from doctors' appointments to carte de séjour applications and have accumulated a lot of experience.
Recently it occured to me that I might as well put this to good use and do it professionally. Around the same time, somebody I know who is being posted abroad for a couple of years, asked if I would look after her house while she was gone, check for leaks, forward post and organise any work that might need doing etc., so I decided to add that as well. This is an explanation of what I had to do to add those activities.
Here's an explaination of what you need to do as a Profession Libérale to complete all of the required paperwork, updated for 2021 as they changed the system slightly.
Or Why I am ruing the day I started this
So, following my claim for the VAT that I had spent in the UK while on business, I got an email from HMRC with various questions as to what I was doing in the UK and whether the clients I have were VAT-registered. I was completely up-front and disclosed that while the vast majority of my clients are VAT-registered allowing me to use the reverse charge mechanism, I had one job last year where the client is non-VAT registered and am in the middle of a second now.
I finally got my refund
But had to jump through several more hoops before they gave it to me.
There are two parts to invoicing foreign clients. The first is the invoice itself. The second, if you are VAT registered is the treatment of VAT on the invoice.
And why I wish I hadn't bothered
As I said in my previous post, one of the main reasons that I bothered to register for TVA in France is to be able to claim back the VAT that I pay in the UK when over there on business trips. I've just completed the form to reclaim the VAT for 2018 and my god the paperwork involved is unbelievable!
We all end up with piles of paperwork but do you know when you can legally get rid of it, and whether it is wise to hold on to it for longer? The timeframes below are the minimum given legal requirements and considerations, but you may want to keep it longer, or digitise it and store it indefinitely just in case!
I've seen quite a lot of people running micro-entreprises asking in various chat rooms where they can find the Attestation Fiscale that gives them the figure for their tax return, so I've put together a step by step guide.