In France, the legislature is building a specific tax system for influencers, but none is yet available, and the rules governing influencer marketing are numerous and overlapping. In the meantime, we explain the current state of influencers’ regulation.
As an influencer, you must determine the country where you are fiscally domiciled and qualify the amounts you receive for tax purposes.
To be taxable in France, you must be a French tax resident or earn income from French sources.
You are a French tax resident if you have in France your primary residence (or main place of residence – 183 days per year minimum), your main professional activity, or the center of your economic interests (where the majority of your income comes from).
Take for example an influencer living in Dubai. If he decides to establish a company there that bills for services, he will not, in principle, have to pay corporate tax in France, even if his clients are French.
However, if this company is entirely controlled by the influencer and all of its income comes from France, tax authorities may consider that he is a French tax resident because the center of his economic interest is in France. In this case, he would be subject to corporate tax in France.
You may also be a tax resident of another country but still have to pay taxes in France when your income is from French sources. For example, when it comes from professional activities performed in France or artistic services provided or used in France.
For example, if the influencer works full-time to promote products for a major haute couture house headquartered are in France, whether he is a French, Swiss, or British resident is not relevant; these remunerations paid by the French company will be subject to tax in France.
French tax regime for influencers : the legal qualification of the influencer-partner relationship
Contracts for the provision of services are the most common. This qualification includes income such as revenue received during the subsequent exploitation of the content. These remunerations are subject to income tax under the Non-Commercial Profits – BNC category. They can be subject to the “micro” or “normal” tax regime latter explained.
If you promote products through a blog, you may be required to register with the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés (RCS) – Trade and companies register. This applies when you act as an intermediary to promote the advertiser’s products and services on a regular basis in return for payment.
If the contract is not clearly defined, it may be requalified as an employment contract. The qualification of modeling services and the status of performer entail a presumption of salaried status. Employees benefit from a small allowance for professional expense of 10% and are then subject to the general social security regime for employees. Please note that if you are not a tax resident in France, your French source salaries may be subject to a withholding tax of 12% to 20%.
French tax regime for influencers in France : which legal status should you choose?
The micro-enterprise is often recommended. It has several advantages. With the “micro status”, administrative obligations are limited: you must declare your turnover monthly or quarterly (as you wish), at the same time as you pay your social security contributions. You can benefit from the 34% flat-rate deduction for BNC, of at least €305.
However, the annual turnover must be less than €77,700 (2023). Also, the tax base is the turnover and not the profit, meaning actual expenses are not taken into account. If your actual expenses exceed the 34% allowance, another status would be more appropriate.
If your reference tax income is less than €26,070, you can benefit from the versement libératoire – full debt-discharging effect payment: tax rates range from 1% to 2.2% depending on the activity for the fiscal payment, and from 6% to 22% (unless you benefit from the start-up exemption – ACRE) for the social payment.
If you wish to be subject to corporate tax, other legal forms are possible, such as the EI, SARL or SAS unipersonnelle.
French tax regime for influencers in France : What about the Value Added Tax (VAT) ?
In principle, VAT is a tax due on services rendered.
For example: a content creator on a platform provides services for the platform that are subject to VAT.
You may benefit from VAT exemption if your turnover (for services rendered) is less than €36,800. In this case, you must indicate “VAT exemption, article ter 262 of the CGI”.
With contracting parties from different origins, it is necessary to consider the VAT territoriality rules.
In business-to-business (B2B) relations, VAT is due in the country where the client is established. A service provided by a professional residing in France to a taxable person established in or outside the European Union is subject to French VAT.
If your client is located outside the EU, the invoice should indicate “VAT not applicable – art. 259-1 of the CGI.”
If your client is located within the EU, the invoice should include the mention “reverse charge” (invoice excluding VAT).
The provider must then file a European declaration of services (DES) within ten days of the month following the one in which the service was provided, or an advance payment was made.
Steps to follow:
- Get your intra-Community VAT number.
Since platforms are generally headquartered outside of France, and your clients may come from various countries (e.g., YouTube or Google is located in Ireland, and your clients are German, Italian, or Swedish), you provide intra-Community services (between different European countries). Therefore, you must obtain your intra-Community VAT number from the Business Tax Department (Service des impôts des Entreprises – SIE). You must include your intra-Community VAT number on several documents:
- Invoices, along with other mandatory information,
- Exchange of Services declarations, statistical survey (EMEBI), and summary statement, once a month, via the douane.gouv.fr website (or Cerfa form 13964*02),
- And on your VAT returns, if any.
What are the risks of not complying with your reporting obligations?
- You need an intra-Community VAT number to activate your AdSense account and receive payments due from Google Ireland.
- Failure to file a European Declaration of Services (DES) is considered tax fraud. Your taxes will be increased by 40% for voluntary omissions and 80% for fraudulent manoeuvres, and you may face criminal charges.
- Failure to declare your turnover to URSSAF (French Social Security Agency) exposes you to a penalty of €750, then an additional €750 per month of delay. As a self-employed person, it is mandatory to declare your turnover, even when it is zero.
- You may receive income from Google Ireland without proper invoicing, but beware, as a self-employed person, proper invoicing is mandatory in France. A missing or incorrect invoice may result in sanctions during a URSSAF audit.
Currently, the law is not keeping pace with practice, as illustrated by the flight of influencers to Dubai, allowing them to avoid some or all of their taxes in France. However, pending more adapted means, the tax authority uses the tools at its disposal to sanction certain behaviours (such as fictitious tax residence).
Finally, new concepts are emerging, such as the idea of basing taxation on the location of Internet users rather than the influencer and could be adopted by lawmakers. This is a hot topic to follow closely.