To obtain a clear idea of the pros and cons of the two options, please look carefully at the following comparative table.
- There are fewer formalities and limited costs, more especially with regard to the accounts (however, if turnover exceeds 500,000 euros, double-entry bookkeeping is mandatory).
- Speedy decision taking, quickly set-up, easily winded up.
- No start-up capital is required.
- A company combines the resources of several individuals, except in the case of a one-person private limited company (société privée à responsabilité limitée unipersonnelle / eenpersoons besloten vennootschap met beperkte aansprakelijkheid – SPRLU / EVBA).
- Shareholders of certain forms of company are liable only up to the amount of their respective contributions. Their personal assets are therefore unaffected.
- The same person may be a shareholder of more than one company (except of several one-person private limited companies).
- Shareholders are not affected by the company’s bankruptcy, except in very special cases (e.g. bankruptcy during the first 3 years of existence of a substantially undercapitalised company).
- The disappearance (through death, resignation, etc) of a shareholder does not jeopardise the survival of the business. However, the danger exists with a one-person private limited company.
- Lower tax rate compared to individual taxes.
- No social security contributions on earnings retained by the company or on distribution of profits via dividend whereas self-employed persons pay social security on their net income up to 73K euro per annum (net income above 73K euro per annum is exempted of social security contributions).
- The entrepreneur bears all losses; his personal assets are a common pledge towards his creditors.
- The profits which are retained in the business to permit its development are nonetheless subject to personal income tax. This is generally higher than corporation tax.
- The bankruptcy of the business means bankruptcy of the entrepreneur at the same time.
- A minimum capital is required for certain companies.
- Management of the company is more difficult and complicated.
- Training/contribution expenses may be relatively substantial.
- Accounting legislation imposes strict accounting rules irrespective of turnover.
- The law imposes strict formalities for the publishing of financial statements.
- The tax benefit compared with freelancers might remain rather small in case the company owner needs to take all earnings out of the company (for personal purposes), in other words: there might be limited tax benefit using a company when all profit is taken out (owner’s salary).