why freelancers in Russia are in no hurry to become sole proprietors and self-employed

In Russia, the services of IT specialists are among the most in demand on the freelance market. For website development attract 46% freelancers, for programming – 38% specialists.

How many freelancers do you think have decided to come out of the twilight after the innovations of 2020? If you believe survey National Guild of Freelancers, only 26% entered into legal relations with the state. That is, a little more than 3.6 million. In total, at the time of the survey, there were 14 million freelancers – of them, almost a third (27.5%) did not even plan to change their tax status.

Source: Unsplash
Source: Unsplash

Why freelancers are still in no hurry to switch to the bright side – says Anastasia Ryabova, tax consultant of Solar Staff, a service for secure transactions with freelancers.

The article was first published on VC.

Reluctance to waste time

Time is the main resource of any freelancer. Especially when it comes to those who work remotely: programmers, designers, marketers, and so on. Even a trip to another part of the city for such a specialist is half a day wasted, that is, time that no one will pay you. Yes, you can become self-employed without going to the tax office, but not everyone knows about it.

Let’s say a freelancer is trying to open an IP. Before you go on a date with the Tax Office with a folder of documents under your arm, you need to choose a taxation system. Basically, independent professionals choose between the STS on income (6%), the STS (income-expenditure) or the patent system. To understand what will be more profitable specifically for you, you will have to spend time reading articles and consulting with experts. Or more experienced colleagues in this matter.

Freelancers are also worried that now they will have to not only talk to customers, but also spend hours doing some completely unattractive routine. Print contracts and acts, submit declarations to the Tax Office, send reports to the Social Insurance Fund and the Pension Fund, and again go somewhere with a folder under your arm. You even have to print yourself. Freelancers think it all eats up hours that add up to days. In fact, there are many ways to make your life easier: hire an accountant or buy a license for Elba, but not everyone knows about them either. I must say that the self-employed have less trouble, but still this is not the old carefree life: you need to print checks, send them to customers, pay taxes on time.

Unwillingness to part with money

In the view of a freelancer, the transition to any of the official statuses is less money. The money will be used to pay taxes and other deductions. If you are an individual entrepreneur, you will need to pay them regardless of how much you earned this month. And it happens that they didn’t earn anything, but this month the deadline for paying the simplified tax system for the quarter. The self-employed, by the way, do not have such surprises, they pay their 4-6% monthly and only from the money they earn.

In addition to explicit costs, there will also be implicit ones. For example, once a year you will need to pay the tariff of the accounting program and buy a digital signature in order to submit reports remotely. You will need to pay for the use of a current account, as well as a commission for operations in an amount greater than that provided for by the tariff.

Those who, in the status of an individual, used tax deductions, suddenly realize that now, having become self-employed or an individual entrepreneur, they are deprived of such a privilege. And in fact, again lose money.

In reality, things are a little different: the new tax status will allow the freelancer to work with larger clients and offset all these costs. But, again, not everyone takes this into account. Plus, no one guarantees that the check and the number of customers will increase dramatically from switching to SZ or IP.

In addition to the purely rational arguments “I don’t want to spend time on this” and “I don’t want to earn less”, there is also an exclusively instinctive fear of the unknown.

Fears: novelty, uncertainty and tax

Even if there is a desire to register, and a person is ready to spend time studying the topic, he is paralyzed by the fear that he will now choose something wrong and then will suffer for eternity, giving the state more than he could. And not everyone can make the right choice themselves – you need to be able to work with sources of information. There are many articles on the Internet, but from them you need to be able to choose relevant and written by practicing experts, know how to check primary sources, read laws.

Much depends on the degree of financial and tax literacy of a freelancer. Someone is even afraid to come to their department of the Federal Tax Service with an application for opening an individual entrepreneur, because they think that they will immediately arrange a check for him and reveal all his dark deeds from the past.

Source: Emin Jafarov / Kommersant
Source: Emin Jafarov / Kommersant

A person can be in captivity of a variety of delusions and fears. Someone believes that the Tax Office will tax all receipts on the card with income (for example, from the sale of a car or a transfer for a birthday from relatives). Another heard that bailiffs took away an apartment from one of his acquaintances for business debts. And the case, by the way, is quite real, because the individual entrepreneur is responsible for the sins of the business with his personal property, he does not have an authorized capital, like an LLC.

Finally, all freelancers are uncomfortable with the thought that now they will have to change the understandable scheme: I give you a job, you give me money on a card. Habit is a terrible force.

What to do with it?

The situation on the freelance market in Russia is that the vast majority work in the dark. In our country, not so long ago, a progressive tax rate was introduced depending on the level of income (in case of excess income in the amount of 5 million rubles + 2% tax). But this is still not comparable to the UK, where, with high incomes, you need to give up to 45% to the state. Although there, in fairness, a non-taxable amount of income is established within the income limit.

To change the situation, you can do different things. For example, create new comfortable tax regimes to cover as many people as possible. The state proceeded from this when it introduced self-employment, and it proceeds from this now, preparing a new automated USN.

You can tighten the fines and scare with checks. But in the end, a decent proportion of freelancers will still remain in the shadows, they will exist in parallel as self-employed and individual entrepreneurs. Just because until the first check, everyone has strong confidence: the tax office will not come to me with my 50 thousand in revenue per month when there is a neighbor with a turnover of ten million.

A compromise solution is to create products that will help include individuals in the economy without forcibly transferring them to a new tax status. For example, Solar Staff developed a tool to automate the payment of taxes by individuals, which will help “whitewash” the relationship between customers and contractors.

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