Unfortunately invoicing foreign clients for VAT is not that straightforward. There are different rules depending on whether the client is based inside the EU or not and whether they are registered for VAT themselves.
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.
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. The RSI used to send this to you as a paper form but stopped in 2017 and like a lot of French paperwork, it isn't obvious where you have to look to find it, so I've put together a step by step guide.
In early 2018, I changed from the micro-entreprise system of charges paid quarterly based on actual turnover to paying on account based on my previous year's profits despite not having gone over the limits for turnover as a micro-entreprise. Here's what I had to do and why I did it.
As you might expect bookkeeping in France and the UK follows the same principles but the French tax authorities have different rules on what you can and can't deduct as expenses. This post is about my experiences getting to grips with the French system.