With more than a billion websites worldwide, creating a web agency can only be a flourishing activity, in that many freelances faced with the recrudescence of requests have been led to create a web agency.
A web agency offers many services that are completely dematerialized, among these services the best known there is of course the creation of website or website, but all the services that go with such as hosting, the community management, SEO, mobile application development, online services, … A web agency therefore potentially offers a wide range of services through know-how and therefore different trades.
A web agency can either be a structure grouping several people, in the form of SAS or SARL in the majority of cases, or a single person under a status of SASU, EURL or micro entrepreneur.
Depending on the status chosen, the nature of the benefits and the amount of income generated by the web agency, the question of the exercise or establishment of these benefits in a country other than France for reasons of tax optimization can be interesting.
It is necessary before considering this decision to distinguish according to whether the services of the web agency are made by one or several people.
What is an offshore company and is it legal?
An offshore company is an extraterritorial structure, a company established and established abroad. When we talk about offshore companies, we often think about tax optimization, or even tax evasion and tax havens.
But setting up a company abroad to optimize its tax system may, if it complies with certain codes, be perfectly legal, but it can also be limited or even illegal.
If you are thinking of setting up an offshore company for your web agency, it is in principle that you would like to significantly reduce the costs of your business, namely taxation (corporate tax, income tax and VAT). , the costs of setting up and managing a company, the cost of service or accommodation, …
Indeed, it is widely recognized that France is one of the most taxed countries, so it is legitimate to ask how to optimize this taxation. Depending on your profile and according to your convictions, you will also be able to make choices that will allow you to pay a portion of your taxes in France, but also to optimize or evade some of them.
The creation of an offshore company poses well on the question of its legality & nbsp; It must be understood that the meaning of the word “offshore” here is understood as the creation of a company abroad and not in a more restrictive way such as the creation of a company in a country other than the one in which it operates. which it carries out its economic activities.
Indeed, to create a company abroad is in itself perfectly legal. What may nevertheless not be legal is the absence of declaration of income generated in this company abroad while the economic activity is in France and while the partner or partners who have the status of tax resident do not report the income they receive from this activity.
There are therefore two major major schemas on the creation of an offshore company, either it clearly serves to escape entirely the French taxation or it is used to escape in part by optimizing the tax from the activity exercised.
Your choice to create an offshore company for your web agency is therefore a function of your situation, your income, your needs but also your considerations. We describe below depending on the different situations encountered what is advisable or not on the creation of an offshore company for your web agency and on the question of its legality.
In any event, it is strongly advised not to attempt an extraterritorial adventure alone
but to make you help and advise by specialists who will know you
to focus on the legal and formalities as well as on the country and
installation methods most suitable for your situation.
The single associate web agency
It’s totally possible to create a web agency in the form of an individual company (SASU or EURL) or even self-entrepreneur now micro-entrepreneur. In France,
whatever the chosen status, administrative formalities are to be expected,
these formalities represent a certain cost in launching the activity.
Depending on the status you have chosen, as soon as you start to bill your benefits you will be taxed. Either you have opted for the status of micro entrepreneur and achieving a turnover less than € 70,000 annual will have a relatively light taxation, or you bill through the company you created and therefore what you charge will be submitted in a first time to the corporate tax (28% to 33 1/3 % according to your annual turnover) then to the income tax in a second time.
It is in this situation that you begin to ask yourself the question of creating an offshore company for your web agency. Your choices should be made in consideration of the situation in which you perform your services as part of your web agency.
You have a web agency and your customers are exclusively in France
In this situation, since the heart of your economic activity is in France, the French tax authorities will consider that your income should be taxed in France.
If you decide nevertheless to create an offshore company while you are a French tax resident, that your customers are French and that this web agency is your main source of income, then you expose yourself to sanctions for tax evasion because the wanting to establish your company outside of France is exclusively for the purpose of avoiding tax.
If, despite everything, you want to create an offshore company for your web agency, in this case you will have to make sure to choose a country in which the creation of a company allows to keep the anonymity of the company’s partner (s) for the creation of your web agency.
You will also have to verify that this country is not bound by the communication agreements of the openings and accountings abroad so that the bank account associated with the created company can not reveal your identity.
Finally it is of course strongly discouraged to repatriate the income of this company on your accounts in France, the profits from your activity abroad will have to be used abroad or in France but with the bank card of the offshore company provided that the country in which you established it does not consider the concept of abuse of social good.
It is very important to note that in this type of scheme you are in illegality and therefore you incur your personal liability for being fined tax and for tax evasion.
You have a web agency and bill customers who are not exclusively in France
You are a French tax resident but your clients are partly based in France and for the most part abroad, in which case it may be more legitimate to want to create an offshore company.
Why in this case would it be legal to create an offshore company? If the heart of your business is not located in France but abroad, in this case the French tax administration does not have to claim the tax on the income generated by this company.
It is therefore in principle permissible to create this company abroad. However, if you are a French tax resident and you collect this income in France whether in the form of salary or dividend distribution, you are taxed under the French tax system.
This scheme can be interesting if you want to benefit from the favorable taxation of corporation tax in certain foreign countries and avoid the 28% to 33 1/3 % of taxation on the profits generated by the company.
However, you will be taxed on income for the income you have collected as a tax resident and in this case you will also be able to enjoy the benefits of the social security and pension systems and especially in this situation you can live in France, without having to hide your income in a perfectly legal situation
If you want to create an offshore company and establish yourself abroad and become a tax resident of a country other than France, in this case your income tax will be due to the country’s tax authorities. which you will have installed.
In this situation, no particular problem with the French tax administration, the only taxes that you will be liable to in France are taxes on real estate that you could hold in France, or taxes on the income of movable capital you hold in France or finally taxes and / or taxes on money that you would return to France.
There are countries in which it is very easy to establish tax residence, especially in Malta.
If it is easy to settle in Malta, however, you should pay attention to the definition of tax residence in France in the sense of the French tax administration, if you have a tax residence in another country but that in fact you continue to live in France most of the year that you have your rent or your main residence and your family lives there, in this case there will be a risk of requalification of your tax resident status and you will therefore still be taxed on your property and income by the French tax authorities.
The ideal situation in this case is to live at least half of the year abroad (more than 183 days), if you are married and have children they also live with you at least 183 days abroad, that your accounts are well open abroad and that you do not repatriate your income in France. In this situation no worry so you are perfectly legal and do not run the risk of punishment.
The multi-partner web agency
In this case, it is necessary to distinguish according to whether your company is transparent, ie imposed on the income tax or that it is imposed on the corporate tax.
Company income tax
The partners of a company such as an SAS or an LLC can opt for income tax under certain conditions which can usually quite easily correspond to a normal web agency activity (the option conditions are enumerated by Bofip).
When your company is said to be transparent, the partners of this company are directly taxed on the income of the company, so the company is not taxed.
Therefore, the company can be created abroad without any difficulty since in any case each partner will be personally taxed according to his or her tax resident status and income.
So you can have some of the partners who are established abroad and will therefore be taxed according to their country of tax residence or have partners who are established in France and who will be taxed according to the tax system French.
Company to corporation tax
On the other hand, if you want to create an offshore company while the center of economic activity of the company is in France, the assembly as is is not legal.
Indeed, creating an offshore company for a web agency that all customers would be in France, would constitute a tax evasion, you would then hide this assembly by creating a company abroad in a country n ‘ having no obligation to communicate on the beneficial owners of a company or obligation to communicate bank accounts abroad and all without repatriating any income in France from this activity.
However, it is possible to imagine a montage in which you create two companies, one in France with your associates and one abroad. This company abroad could charge your French company for certain services and thus reduce your taxable profit in France and therefore your tax.
As an example, you have your web agency in France, your customers are French, so you should in principle bill them for your services in France, the web agency service is broken down into several trades and skills, you can quite invoice the global amount to 30 000 euros for example for the creation of a website and this will not change anything for the customer but internally you modulate the services.
So you are billed for example 5,000 euros by the offshore company created for SEO for example, then 2,000 euros for the translation of the site then 3,000 euros for a part of the design or other.
In this example you charged 30,000 euros but spent 10,000 euros to have the services performed by another company, your taxable profit would be no more than 30,000 euros but 20,000 euros.
You are therefore saving tax on this amount. Of course in fact there are other charges that come down your taxable profit but the idea is to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce its tax by creating an offshore company for your web agency and thus benefit from a reduction of your tax payable.