Artist-author: taxation (tax return, VAT and CFE)

Verified 14 November 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

As an artist-author, you are a self-employed. You exercise a creative artistic activity, whether in the fields of literature, dance, theater, music, cinema and graphic and plastic arts, and even software.

When you earn income, it is reported either in non-commercial profits (BNC), or wages and salaries (TS). This statement will determine your tax system.

You have declared your activity as an artist-author. Thus, you are subject toincome tax (IR) and must report your income on the tax administration website, via your Special area.

Taxes: access your Special Space

In principle, the income of the artist-author (copyright, sales of original works, ancillary activities) is taxable in the category of non-commercial profits (BNC).

Your tax system depends on your 2022 revenue (CA) reported in 2023 (threshold set at €72,600).

Please note

The threshold applicable to turnover in 2023 and reported in 2024 is enhanced (€77,700).

CA less than €72,600

You can choose one of the 2 tax systems following:

  • Micro-BNC speed : This is a simplified reporting method, you only report your gross revenue (excluding VAT) and the tax administration calculates your taxable income by applying a abatement of 34% for business expenses.
  • Arrangements for the controlled declaration : this system requires a detailed accounting of your expenses and your professional income. Your taxable profit (or deficit) is the net profit realized during calendar year taking into account actual revenue and charges paid in the same year. This scheme is compulsory above €72,600 VAT of revenue.
Revenue over €72,600

Above €72,600 HT of revenue per year, you are obligatorily subject to controlled declaration procedure.

This plan requires you to keep detailed accounts of your business expenses and revenues. Your taxable profit (or deficit) is the net profit realized during calendar year taking into account actual revenue and charges paid in the same year.

However, copyright is taxable in the category of wages and salaries when they fully declared by third parties (publishers, producers or collective management organizations such as the Sacem: titleContent).

However, you can opt out of this plan and report all your income to BNC. This option is valid for the year in which it is exercised and for the following 2 years.

Applicable VAT rates

The VAT rate to be applied varies depending on the nature of the operation :

  • Sale of an original work by the author or his successors in title: 5.5%
  • Assignment of copyright (right of representation, reproduction, adaptation, exploitation and interpretation): 10%
  • For all other operations : 20%

The start-up aid or grants paid by various public or private bodies are exempt from VAT. Thus, the VAT rate is 0% except where they are consideration for a supply of goods or services or where they are additional to the price of a taxable transaction.

VAT rates for ‘ancillary’ activities depend on the supply concerned. For example, when they are paid directly by the students, course given in the artist-author's studio or studio and the workshops artistic or writing practices, are exempt from VAT.

VAT exemption

The exemption from VAT exempt the companies of the declaration and payment of VAT.

Your right to benefit depends on the turnover (CA) from your artistic activities in the previous year (N-1)

CA less than €47,600

You benefit from a exemption from VAT on your artistic recipes (copyright, sales of works...).

In this context, you must issue a tax-free invoice to your customer with the words “ VAT not applicable - Article 293b of the CGI ”.

Revenue over €47,600

Above the threshold of €47,700, you are subject to VAT for the following year and you'll have to charge for it. You also have to pay VAT during the year if the current year's revenue exceeds €58,600. Therefore, the obligation to declare and invoice VAT takes effect from 1er the day of the month following the overrun.

Please note

For income from ancillary activities (workshops, courses, public meetings), you benefit from the VAT exemption when your turnover for the previous year does not exceed €19,600 and if it does not exceed €23,700 for the current year.

Option for VAT payment

Regardless of the amount of your annual turnover (even less than €47,700), you can opting for VAT payment and charge your customers. This allows you to recover deductible VAT on business expenses.

The request for an option must be made in writing to the company tax department (SIE) on which you depend.

Who shall I contact

The option takes effect to 1er day of the month in which it is declared.

The option must cover a period of 2 years renewable (including the request). Thus, an option formulated on 1er November of year N shall take effect until 31 December N+1.

Withholding tax on certain copyrights

The VAT withholding tax system exemption from VAT declaration when you collect copyrights from publishers, producers or businesses for collecting and allocating rights (Adagp: titleContent, SAIF: titleContent, Sacem: titleContent, etc.).

The broadcaster declares and pays VAT on your behalf and then withholds the VAT paid on the copyrights it pays you.

This exemption applies to both artists-authors eligible for the exemption on a basic basis and artists-authors liable to pay VAT.


Where copyright is paid by a publisher, the withholding tax on VAT shall apply only in respect of copyright paid under a publishing contract. Therefore, if you charge copyright to a publisher (i.e. outside of a publishing contract), it is up to you to declare and pay VAT to taxes, there is no withholding tax.

General case

This deduction is equal to the amount of VAT calculated at the rate legally applicable to copyright (10%) less a right of deduction fixed at a flat-rate of 0.80%, or a net deduction of 9.20%.

Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion

This deduction is equal to the amount of VAT calculated at the rate legally applicable to copyright (10%) less a right of deduction fixed at a flat-rate of 0.40%, or a net deduction of 9.60%.

You can waive the withholding tax system, at any time. In this case, you pay and declare VAT yourself.

The waiver must be formulated in writing and forwarded by registered letter to company Tax Service (SIE)). You must then immediately send a copy of the waiver letter sent to the tax department to all publishers, duty collection and allocation businesses and producers from whom you collect or are entitled to collect duties.

This waiver shall apply for a period of 5 years.

Who shall I contact

The companies' property levy (CFE) is a local tax payable by traders who habitually engage in self-employed occupation on 1er January of the taxation year, irrespective of their legal status, activity or taxation regime.

The following artists-authors are exempt :

  • Painters, sculptors, engravers and draftsmen considered as artists and selling only the product of their art. This includes graphic artists provided that their activity is limited to the creation of graphic works. On the contrary, it excludes graphic designers who carry out works based on models supplied by third parties, or operate an establishment in which industrial work is predominant and secondary artistic work.
  • Photographers of art for their activity in the making of photographs, the transfer of their works of art and the transfer of their property rights in relation to their photographic works
  • Authors and composers
  • Lyrical and dramatic artists

On the other hand, software authors shall not benefit from of this exemption.

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