... start working as a freelancer
What freelancing can involve
Freelancing is an expression used for different situations, It can mean:
- working with short employment contracts and/or commission contracts
- not being bound to only one employer
- working in a mixed career: as an artist and doing other work or being an artist as well as a teacher, an actor as well as director, etc.
On this website, we use 'freelancer' for people who work to order but who are not entitled to the tax benefits for self-emploed persons. Many freelancers work (parttime) as employees as well. If you work with several (short) employment contracts, in a legal sense and for the Tax Administration you are an employee.
Most artists start working freelance because they cannot meet the criteria to be treated as a self-employed person by the Tax Administration. So it means you are working on commission but you do not get tax benefits. If business goes well, you can apply later for registration as a self-employed person at the Tax Administration.
Freelancing sounds like an ideal situation. But do take time to consider what your objectives are. Do you really want to be a freelancer and for how long?
Working freelance has a few consequences:
- As a freelancer you have to register at the Chambre of Commerce (just like self-employed persons).
- The Tax Administration decide wheter or not you get a btw-number (VAT).
- You usually cannot claim benefits during illness.
- You might be temporarily out of work and income from time to time.
- You probably won't build up entitlement to pension benefits.
- You need to keep the books.
Obligation to register with the Chamber of Commerce
Like any self-employed entrepreneur, as a freelance you must register with the Chamber of Commerce if you satisfy the following criteria:
- You take part in economic activity on a regular basis
- You aim to make a profit
- You work on your own account and at your own risk
- There is no question of a relation of authority vis-à-vis the client
This means that you are not obliged to register if you occasionally submit an invoice for a job and the rest of your income comes, for example, from paid employment or compensation. You are not obliged to register either if you do jobs (almost) entirely on a voluntary basis.
Reporting to the Tax Office
After registering with the Chamber of Commerce the Tax Office decides whether you should be given a VAT registration number. These organisations work together, so there is no need to report separately to the Tax Office.
An alternative if you do jobs on an occasional basis
For occasional jobs you can also make use of the opting in scheme. In that case you can be paid as though you were a self-employed entrepreneur, but without all the administrative obligations.