France has updated its tax code to introduce specific reporting requirements for platforms. The law aims to better target fraudulent practices and to strengthen sanctions against deliberate fraud.
Article 87 of the 2016 Finance Act had already introduced an obligation for electronic matchmaking platforms to inform their users about tax and social matters and is codified in Article 242 bis of the General Tax Code (Code générale des impôts – CGI).
Article 10 strengthens and clarifies extant tax reporting obligations of platform operators defined as platforms which ‘put people in contact with each other at a distance, by electronic means, with a view to the sale of a good, the provision of a service or the exchange or sharing of a good or a service’. It is accompanied by sanctions aimed at strengthening the fight against undeclared income and concealed work. Three obligations are grouped together in this article:
- To inform users of their tax and social security obligations;
- To send users an annual summary of the transactions carried out;
- To send tax authorities, once a year, a document summarising the information sent to users, in particular the income received, of which the platform operator has knowledge.
These obligations apply to platform companies, whether they are established in France or in another State, and which, as platform operators, put people in contact with each other at a distance, by electronic means, with a view to the sale of a good, the provision of a service or the exchange or sharing of a good or a service. They apply to platform users who are resident in France or who carry out sales or services in France.
Platforms located abroad must be registered to have a French internal identification number (SIREN). This number allows registered platforms to create a secure professional space on the impots.gouv.fr website, from which platforms can electronically transmit to the French tax authorities an annual declaration summarising all the information given to the platform's users, who have received income from these transactions.
Regarding the obligation to inform platform users, the information to be provided relates to the tax regimes and social security regulations applicable to the receipts and income derived from transactions carried out through the platform. It also covers the reporting and payment obligations to the tax authorities and the bodies responsible for collecting social security contributions resulting from the transaction and the penalties incurred in the event of failure to meet these obligations. In addition, platform operators are obliged to provide their users with an electronic link to the websites of the administrative bodies which have this information.
Platform operators also have the obligation to send an annual document to users that summarises the amounts paid in connection with the transactions carried out through the platform and of which it is aware, no later than 31 January of the year following the year with respect to which the information is given. This document shall include: the identification details of the platform operator concerned (these details include its company name, place of establishment and identification number - SIREN); the identification details of the user; the status of private individual or professional indicated by the platform user; the number and total gross amount of transactions carried out by the user during the previous calendar year; and, if known to the operator, the details of the bank account into which the income is paid.
Platform operators must also send by electronic means a summary document to the tax authorities. The document should summarise the identification details of the platform operator concerned; the identification details of the user; the status of private individual or professional indicated by the user; the number and total gross amount of transactions carried out by the user during the previous calendar year, and if known by the operator, the details of the bank account into which the income is paid.
Platform operators must mention in the document to be sent to the administration the amounts of transactions taxable for VAT in France. To combat illegal employment, the data received from platform operators by the tax authorities is automatically transferred by the Directorate General of Public Finance to ACOSS (Agence Centrale des Organismes de Sécurité Sociale).
Non-compliance by platform operators with these obligations leads to the application of penalties amounting to a global fixed fine set up to a maximum of €50,000 and a fine equal to 5% of the undeclared sums in the event of failure to file the summary document within the stipulated period.
In addition, Article 11 introduces a mechanism for joint and several liability of platforms for VAT, codified under new Articles 283 bis and 293 A ter of the CGI and applicable since 1 January 2020. Platform operators are required to ask those suspected by the tax authorities of evading their tax obligations to regularise their situation. If they fail to cooperate or if their actions are unsuccessful, platforms may be required to pay the VAT.
The joint and several liability of the platform applies when there is a presumption that the user is evading his obligations to declare or pay VAT in two situations:
- when a taxable person carries out or supplies to persons not subject to VAT goods or services whose place of taxation is located in France pursuant to the general rules on the territoriality of VAT (Articles 258 to 259 D of the CGI);
- where a person is liable for VAT on the importation of goods (pursuant to Article 293 A of the CGI).
Following an alert from the tax authorities, the platform has one month to take measures to enable the person concerned to regularise his or her situation. It then notifies the tax authorities, by any means that can be used to prove receipt, of the date, nature and proof of the measures it has taken. If the suspicions persist within one month of the platform's notification or, failing that, of the initial alert by the tax authorities, the authorities may give the platform formal notice to take additional measures or to exclude the person. The platform has a further period of one month to take additional measures or exclude the person. The platform shall notify the administration of the measures it has taken. If the platform fails to take action or exclude the person, the administration may make the platform jointly and severally liable for the payment of the VAT that the person should have paid.
According to article 1731 ter of the CGI, failure to comply with one of the obligations set out in Article 242a during an inspection is punishable by an overall fixed fine set at a maximum of €50,000. Regarding the annual obligation of platforms to communicate to the tax authorities the same information as that appearing on the annual summary transmitted to users, failure to comply with this obligation may result in a fine amounting to 5% of the undeclared amounts.
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