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  • Noureddine Friaa: The Self-Employed: A New regime that deserves to be reviewed

Noureddine Friaa: The Self-Employed: A New regime that deserves to be reviewed

17 July 2020

Legislative Decree No. 2020-33 of June 10, 2020 has introduced a new regime called "self-employed regime" which applies to any natural person of Tunisian nationality exercising an activity in the sectors of industry, agriculture, trade, services, crafts or small trades and whose annual turnover does not exceed 75000 TND and specifies that persons who file the declaration of existence provided for by Article 56 of the IRPP and IS code from the date of publication of the decree-law are excluded from the benefit of the self-employed regime.

Download the BDO Tunisia publication on the self-employed regime)

However article 2 of this decree-law limited the benefit of this regime to persons who have already filed a declaration of existence as provided by article 56 of the IRPP and IS code before the publication of the Legislative Decree: A new regime that applies to the old ones!

This new regime allows the self-employed to benefit from specific tax and social security treatment which consists in paying a single contribution, discharging income tax, VAT and the contribution to the profit of the national fund. social security (CNSS).

The amount of the single contribution is fixed at:

  • 0.5 ℅ of annual turnover from income tax; and
  • 7.5 ℅ for the contribution to the benefit of the CNSS, calculated on the basis of two-thirds of the SMAG or the SMIG depending on the sector of activity.

In the absence of an explanatory memorandum to this decree-law, it is really difficult to understand and even to decipher the intention of the establishment of this new regime which only covers who are already practicing before June 10, 2020.

It should be recalled that less than two years ago, article 42 of the finance law for the year 2019 introduced a simplified tax and social regime aimed at encouraging people exercising a profit-making activity without filing a declaration of existence, to join the tax and social system.

This regime, open to persons practicing in fiscal and social underground, could have a positive effect on the fight against parallel trade and the informal sector and especially the broadening of the tax base unlike the self-employed regime, access to which was unfortunately limited to individuals subject to the flat-rate regime on the date of publication of Legislative Decree No. 2020-33 of June 10, 2020.

The self-employed regime currently limited to those in exercise before June 10, 2020 will further complicate the tax regime for natural persons subject to the flat-rate regime and will even fragment it without increasing the tax return of this highly contested regime. We can even expect a decrease in the contribution of natural persons whose turnover varies between 10,000 TND and 75,000 TND who will see their income tax drop from 3 ℅ of annual turnover to only 0.5 ℅ annual turnover, which seems to us contrary to the objectives of tax efficiency and fairness.

Another aberration of this new regime was brought by article 2 of the decree-law and which consists in the requirement of a declaration of existence of the physical persons of Tunisian nationality exercising on an individual basis an activity in the sector of the 'Agriculture. However, individual farmers have never been subject to the filing of the declaration of existence and the only attempt to submit them to this obligation by article 66 of the 2014 finance law whose application was suspended by the decision the head of government has since remained a dead letter. A farmer can never be a self-employed entrepreneur!

The self-employed person's regime as provided by Legislative Decree No. 2020-33 of June 10, 2020 looks like a reduction in the tax burden of persons profiting from flat rate regime, rather than a new incentive regime aimed at mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on economic and social conditions in Tunisia.

Noureddine Friaa
BDO Tunisie
TAX Partner