Le résumé

This is a translation of the 29 Mars 2017 report from the Working Group of the Finance Committee of the French Senate on taxation and tax collection in the digital economy. Only original text is deemed authentic.

The collaborative economy is now part of everyday life for millions of people - but the tremendous development of exchanges between individuals is a challenge for our taxation and social contributions rules.

As regards taxation, there is no such thing as a "grey area": all income is taxable from the first euro, apart from a few limited exceptions. As for social contributions, there are no simple and objective criteria for distinguishing private individuals from professionals. As a consequence, many platform users should - in theory - pay social contributions, seek professional qualification and respect a series of sector-specific standards.

All these rules were designed for the "physical" world, a world of week-end car boot sales, flea markets and DIY services between neighbours. No one actually questioned these rules... simply because they were not enforced. The amounts at stake were low, and the controls were sparse.

Now that exchanges and services between private individuals have become massive, standardized, and fully traceable, it has become necessary to adapt our taxation and tax collection system to the collaborative economy.

The Working Group proposes a reform based on two main elements:

- A tax allowance of EUR 3,000 per year, which would allow the exemption of low, sideline and additional income received via online platforms, but would not cause any distortion with professionals. As for social protection, the EUR 3,000 threshold would, for the first time, provide a criterion to distinguish between private individuals and professionals.

- Automatic reporting of users' income by online platforms, to reduce administrative burdens and ensure fair and effective taxation when applicable. Users would need to accept automatic reporting in order to benefit from the EUR 3,000 tax allowance.

These propositions have been elaborated in a non-partisan approach. They are inspired by recent initiatives in the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Belgium and Italy, which are presented in part III of the report.

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