RSI -what powers do they have and how do we know if we are being over charged?

My husband has worked here in France since 2006, initially as an Enterprise Indivduelle. Our first two years of cotisations were as we expected, then I had a heart attack and having a young child, my husband had to take time off work to look after us both. I have to add that he works as a sub contractor over 140kms away from home and so is normally away from home each week, monday-friday!

To cut a long story short I had a second heart attack and again my hubby had to take time off work, our finances suffered and we wrote to RSI explaining what had happened and that we couldnt afford to pay our cotisations in full - we received an acknowledgment (a minor miracle apparently!) the upshot being that they were dealing with our dossier and would get back to us - that was in 2008! Meantime because of our awful financial situation my husband redoubled his work efforts in order to hopefully get us back on track - the consequence of that was that his income increased over the limit for an Enterprise Individuelle (by about 5000Euros!) and our accountant told us that he had to change his statut and become TVA registered. On this basis, with our income not changing that dramatically, we naively put aside increased but still similar amounts to what we had originally been asked to pay -3500Euros.

On this Christmas Eve, God bless them, RSI sent us a communication for the first time since 2008 enclosing our cotisations for 2008 - 2012 demanding some be paid by 16th January and others 31st January - the total of these being over 66500Euros! (2008 was for 3480Euros based on our original statut (Enterprise Individuelle) and net income of 25500Euros -in comparison - for 2010 we have a demand of 21750Euros on our upgraded statut and "calculated" on a net income of 29058Euros - total madness!)

We have sent everything to our accountant - querying all the amounts and theyre looking into it - their last comment being that "it is a little bit complicated" In the meantime we are both stressed to the nines, my husband is totally and understandably despondent, disillusioned and dismayed by the whole business. In effect, averaging out the cotisations RSI are asking us to pay, they are demanding over 50% of our income and on top of that we still have to pay income tax and professional tax and take it on the chin that we are unpaid tax (TVA) collectors for the state.

Our house is for sale, initially we put it up for sale so that we could move to where my husbands work is but now we face the prospect, when the house eventually sells, of using a large part of the proceeds from the sale to pay off this huge debt. This will alter our plans dramatically because property in the area we had hoped to move to is far more expensive than where we live now.

So this brings me to my questions - does anyone know what kind of powers RSI have - can they seize control of the sale of our home to pay their fees? Can my husband declare himself bankrupt (which seems to be the easy get out clause in the UK), if he can, should he? Im so worried, hearing some of the horror stories about RSI that even if they are completely wrong in their calculations, they wont address the problem and dig their heels in? Other than taking the word of our accountant and/or RSI, is there any way we can verify that what were being asked to pay is roughly correct?

I have sent a recorded delivery letter to RSI confirming that we can pay a small percentage but that we completely dispute their calculations and are consulting our accountant. In taking this further one of the things adding to the stress is language (suprise suprise!) I speak reasonable basic french - my husband is the same in conversations that touch our normal everyday life, we can understand the gist of most conversations and read french reasonably better than we understand spoken french - but the keyword here is "gist" which is no good when were speaking about a more convoluted subject like this to our accountant or some other beaurocrat in an office and it is worrying the heck out of us.

Can anyone shed any light on how we can try to resolve this mess -many thanks.

Stephanie, the letter will arrive in due course. Our avergae is about two months after repayment. Read carefully and you will understand that a payment is forthcoming, then check the bank to see how long ago that was! Getting used to that. Once, dunno why...., a cheque came instead. So be prepared to be surprised.

Some light on the horizon folks, we have recently received a chunky refund from RSI after all our trials with them; it suddenly appeared in the bank account without ,of course, any letter to us informing us of the details. My hopes and prayers are still with all of you going through the mill with them it's a truly horrid experience and I'm wishing for a good result for everyone.

My husband also has a SARL and we've had some horrendous demands. Some have been correct and we have paid monthly, however I missed a couple of payment this year which I made up for. I stopped one payment and put it all in the hands of our accountant because I thought it was wrong. I was right by about €2000. Then a Huissier arrived out our door demanding payment, I phoned the accountant straight away who spoke to the Huissier.

My accountant also spoke to URSSAF after that, I gave a detailed list of all the payments I had made and low and behold URSSAF said they didn't have a record of two payments. Luckily, I'd sent everything in by 'Avis Recommande avec accusé de Reception'.

Moral of the story is: Always send any payments or official paperwork by registered post!

Beverly there is a like button...go back up to the article and "like" it just underneath it :)

I want to echo Stephanie's accountant's sentiment "Don't pay them anything else they are in complete chaos and sending out demands to everyone."

We came in 2006 and have had nothing but craziness from the RSI. They merged several organisations just after we arrived, into the RSI and apparently it was to stop the previous chaos. The latest chaos we're having is over my husband restarting as an autoentrepreneur after a gap of a year and over my own sick pay (now 3 months late and I earned no profit for 6 months prior to the arret de travail) The RSI doctor has apparently decided I am fit for work despite my surgeon/gp/physiotherapists saying not and that I need a total back fusion and should rest and see if the surgery is successful. A different RSI department says the RSI doctor has said I am eligible for "pension invaliditie" . It's all very confusing and depressing and I totally empathise with you.

I have also heard that RSI problems are linked with suicides here. So let's not be amongst the figures!!!

I suspect the RSI use "standard" letter in most instances and especially that different departments do not communicate with each other. I have no doubt that they are trained to GATEKEEP in a way which is as insidious as any practiced in the UK, by the NHS, for example, or the DHSS (have they renamed it the OWP?). I suspect that they trawl a dossier for any potential reason to demand money and that they send random demands out in an effort to encourage people to pay up without protest or investigation. I also suspect institutional racism as I've had directly racist experiences in their offices.

My advice is to keep all the letters, always send anything to them using recommandee post and if it all gets too much, take Finn Stovgard's advice and find a mediator..this is what i'm planning soon.

I MAY HAVE SOME NEWS FOR you all......

i READ SOMETHING YESTERDAY.......if it is true....

It will be interesting for you .....AT LEAST some of you.

I WILL TRY to run it past my new accountant today and see what he makes

of the info...AS i get things wrong sometimes.

Another day

Stephanie - thank you for telling me your story - it all gives us hope - Were in discussion with the accountants now and all these wonderful replies has made me more determind to be passive agressive - think thats the right term - just mean we will be forceful in our demands without being rude! My fingers are crossed and wish you well too.

Hello Beverly,

We too had problems with RSI because really we had been totally honest with our income from 3 cottages and innocently paid whatever they asked for. Then followed a series of letters which demanded extra payments always starting with the legend that none of this had been caused by any fault by RSI. Suddenly another extra bill for 2000€ and I decided it was time to consult a French accountant. My husband had always done things himself before. Her first words were, "Don't pay them anything else they are in complete chaos and sending out demands to everyone." This scared me as I'm always in awe of French laws and don't want to do the wrong thing. Anyway we followed her advice getting her to send any letters required and forwarding all we received to her so that we were totally sure we understood . The outcome has been very good and she has surely save all her fees and more. I hope that you have a positive outcome too and urge you not to worry alone but consult your accountant at every stage. Make a list of all you concerns and go through them point by point and get the accountant to write letters on your behalf, not because you are not competant but so that they carry the weigt of the professional letter heading. It's money well spent. I wish you well.

No, sorry I don't. However the man with a predominantly Orange focussed shop nearest us advised both of us not to look for a new ISP yet. I doubt he knows we are a couple and since we went into his shop alone with three or four days between there is no way he was trying to work on us as a 'team'.

As I said before, we bought one of those seductive offers and along with probably 999 other subscribers have a low rate package that will not show on any paper/online tariff. Orange said it was for all time (sic) which it has proven to be thus far, so we'll hang on to our tiny bill BUT if a better package with higher speed and capacity for a bit more turns up we are off. Our mobiles are not in that package but our phones, internet and TV are. We simply went 'window shopping' for new mobiles and talked about all in services. The shop guy does not know what our package is, just that we are with Orange and he was hinting that change is going to be soon. But then, soon is when? How long is a piece of string? In general Finn knows what he is saying, I am just repeating a salesman's pitch.

I need the negativity, Finn - that's how I can work out the good from the bad and the downright ugly. So top at the moment seems to be SFR, perhaps followed by Bouygues. I'll check those out and see if I'll be within their connectivity areas.

Very much appreciate the feedback on your experiences. I don't want to be stuck in some ridiculous contract with what turns out to be a crap supplier. Best to get the lowdown first, then plump for whoever seems the best. As you say, local conditions will affect the service sometimes but at least that is something that would be beyond any of their control, not just them being useless.

ANY reductions in package prices will make me happy - serves me right for thinking I can always scrape by on a pittance. Orange and SFR both appear to have discounted their package deals (internet + mobile, one with TV too) so I hope they stay down. If Brian has the inside scoop, I'm sure he'll share, eh Brian? Kissy kissy.

And Finn, I'd like to congratulate you on your Streetwise site. Explained much to me about AEs and the multitude of abbreviated organisations I couldn't fathom before. Thank you.

Sorry, should have stated it more simply and posted the link - it is obligatory to keep a record of outgoings as AE if you fall in the categories below -

Les entrepreneurs bénéficiant du régime fiscal de la micro-entreprise,
qu’ils soient immatriculés ou non, ont une comptabilité allégée.
Ainsi, ils peuvent simplement tenir un livre mentionnant chronologiquement le montant et l’origine des recettes encaissées à titre
professionnel, en distinguant les règlements en espèces des autres
règlements. Les références des pièces justificatives (factures,
notes, etc.) doivent y être indiquées.
Ce livre est tenu au jour le jour.

En outre, lorsque l’activité consiste principalement à vendre des
marchandises, objets, fournitures et denrées à consommer sur
place ou à emporter, ou à fournir des prestations d’hébergement,
les entrepreneurs doivent alors tenir un registre récapitulant par
année le détail de leurs achats en précisant le mode de règlement
et les références des pièces justificatives (factures, notes, etc.).

Les entrepreneurs ont l’obligation de conserver toutes les factures
ou pièces justificatives relatives à leurs achats et à leurs ventes de
marchandises ou de prestations de services

no its not enough - and if you sell the house before you get this settled, RSI will take all they can from the proceeds of the sale.


i just read your post and i really understand your concern.

I'm French and my wife is from the us, we built 3 different businesses, i can help you on this situation but i need to have more details on the situation real status of the company etc..... you don't have to worry about your house if you do the things the right way but if you dont they will take what you owe them directly through the notaire.

i just sent you an invitation to be friends - answer it and i will give you my phone number so we can talk and i will explain what to do depending on your situation.

we can talk about this.


Like you Claire, I do not have to list expenses as I can't deduct them as I'm in services. However for those in commerce they have to keep a list of everything bought in (not really what you would call expenses) as they obviously need to buy in what they are going to then sell on:

It is not obligatory to keep a record of expenses under AE. It is just helpful for your own assessment to do so to make sure that you are not losing money. Remember you cannot deduct expenses before you pay your tax. I would suggest anyone who wants to set up a business they should try a forum like Start a business in France. Valerie is a professional business advisor has many followers and if there is any ambiguity she goes directly to the impot office, chambre of commerce etc... etc... and gets the answers from the horses mouth. For control under AE you must keep all the invoices that you issue. Not your expenses. What exactly are they going to control when your expenses under AE have nothing to do with the income you declare? As I said these are not deductable.

Thanks Mrs T - good info.

It's obligatory to keep a list of expenses as AE, in case of a control, they need to check your expenses against the invoices you declare. BUT, you'd crazy not to keep them for your own records anyway, like Finn says.

We have Orange but got them during one of their deals 'on offer for a week only' and have stuck with them and their deal has stuck with us. Now the best service; people I know with SFR are happier. It is also a rapidly changing market and some of it depends where you are. Idyllic places near nowhere are all a bit 'iffy', we are just on the right side of that line and near enough to somewhere. Most of our work is internet, Skype and occasional phone (lot of countries at that) plus family in two countries so we would HATE a normal tariff.