This week, France's minister for small business, announced the registration of the 500,000th auto-entrepreneur, another clear sign of the popularity of this simplified form of self-employment created in January 2009. Originally registrations were expected to reach 100,000 in 2009 but this figure was later revised as they excceded 320,000 in the first year of launch, finally reaching today's figure of half-a-million registrations in just 18 months.
This week's announcement notes that combined income generated by new auto-entrepreneurs was over 1 billion euros in 2009, and is expected to reach three billion in 2010, represented a significant extra income for many new full and part-time businesses.
A recent study has found that 64% of new auto-entrepreneurs are men against 34% women; 16% are aged 30 or under, and 19% are aged 60 or over. This last figure is particularly encouraging, given the very low percentage of French people actually in fulltime jobs after the age of 55, five years before the tradtional retirement age of 60.
In January 2011, the French government intends to launch another new regime - the E I R C or Entreprise Individuelle (avec) Responsabilité Limitée. This will be similar to the single-person limited company (EURL) but enables an individual who is self-employed to enjoy the same sort of protection, with the added benefit of limited liability.
Individuals opting for the auto-entrepreneur regime are self employed, and pay a combined total of tax and social contributions (at a rate of 13% for commercial activities and around 21% for services), based on actual income earned, and declared quarterly. There are limits on annual turnover, currently around 80,000 euros for commercial activities and 34,000 euros for services, such as consultancy. Auto-entrepreneurs are not alllowed to deduct or charge VAT on their activities, and some reserved occupations are excluded from the regime.
Activities as an auto-entrepreneur can be combined with full or part-time employment in another occupation, including students. The regime is open to those out of work (11% of AEs), pensioners (about one quarter of AEs) and EU nationals, including British who wish to work in France. A search on Google will reveal a wealth of information on the subject, much of it in English.