When all the crap hits the fan at the same time…

… continuing the story.

I just had to declare my five-euro turnover and pay my social contributions . . . I chose my newly registered method and clicked on Send. All was looking good. I printed the confirmation and felt some relief that this entire story was over. This was January 4.

Among the several story structures that can help you plot your narrative, a typical one is composed of a beginning, a middle crisis, a rising action, a climax, and a denouement. The narrative progression of this mini-series on micro-entrepreneur follows this structure. In the seven opening posts, I gave a brief account of why I had to consider this tax status (see Becoming a micro-entrepreneur) and the necessary steps to benefit from it. Then, starting with the One last thing about being a micro-entrepreneur post, I set the stage for – what I hope will be – a gripping narrative. Admittedly, the rise in action was quite slow until now; yet, it was important to introduce the underlying factors that will drive the narrative action.

Good narrative structure is about presenting the plot and story elements to allow readers to understand what is happening and what it all means. Reedsy

The moment of truth

The amount of your electronic payment will be withdrawn on the due date.

This was a footnote on the acknowledgment of receipt that I printed after my declaration (see A loss-making business). In addition to specifying the date and time at which you made your declaration (i.e. January 4, at 8:47 am), this document also reminds you of the due date and time:

January 31, noon

I had anxiously waited for this very moment all month long; will it work? Not only did obtaining the IBAN and BIC for my PayPal pro account turn out to be quite a challenge, but I also had some concerns with them (see Easier said than done). When I logged in to my PayPal account and did not see any pending activity (i.e. the expected one-euro debit), my anxiety and worries grew bigger. Something was wrong…

The time to declare was over, and things were not looking good.

PayPal Customer LACK OF Service

Unfortunately, the call was infructuous. I say “infructuous” but it is an understatement. The person on the phone kept repeating, Your account is not debited. I was reiterating that this was indeed the reason for my call and that I could see on my own that my account was not debited. After asking – I don’t know how many times – whether this one-euro debit was pending (and, for some reasons, I would not see the transaction yet) or whether there was a problem with my IBAN – and, hearing again and again, your account is not debited – I finally gave up. I wanted to try my chance with another person dumb bot.

Before that, I decided to double-check something else: could there be an issue with my IBAN starting with DE, the two-digit country code for Germany? While my investigation revealed indeed that this was often a problem with French administrations, I also discovered that the French Organization for the Collection of Social Security and Family Benefit Contributions, namely URSSAF, does charge your account only on the fifth of every month!

In the meanwhile…

This very day – January 31 – I received an official letter from my bank (i.e. not PayPal) with the following header:


In short, this was about the use of my Personal account for professional activities. According to the signed2 agreements, a Personal account is dedicated exclusively to personal use. This was apparently not the first letter they send me and if I was not regularizing my situation by opening a ‘professional’ account, they would be forced to terminate [my] account agreement.

It is therefore imperative to regularize your situation as soon as possible at the risk of seeing your account closed.D. R. d. B. – Director of Compliance

The professional activitiesy they were referring to was the payment of my social contribution – about two years earlier (see Social security contributions). Of course, the all point was to force me to open a Pro account. As alluded to in A dedicated bank account, the fees charged by the banks for such “business” accounts are much higher than the ones for Personal accounts and the formers are much more profitable for them than the latter.

Explaining to their representative that this one-time use (two years ago) of my Personal account for paying my micro-entrepreneur contribution was exactly that, a one-time use only, was to no avail. Mentioning that, in two years, I had no other income than the five-euro donation from my wife (see One last thing about being a micro-entrepreneur) did not change anything. If I were not to open a ‘professional’ account with them now, they would close my Personal account immediately.

Excerpt from the aforementioned post:

… many banks simply refuse to open a regular account for micro-entrepreneurs and force them to subscribe to pro accounts. While it should be possible to open an account without specifying its purpose, there is nothing to prevent the bank from subsequently closing the account once it has realized it is used for professional operations.

To make a (several-week) long story short, I managed after many phone calls and official procedures to keep my Personnel account. Of course, the slightest breach – a one-euro contribution, for example – would have been enough to sound the death knell for the latter…

Murphy’s law

As feared, the URSSAF did not charge my account on February 5! They may have tried to, but the payment did not go through. There was no sign of it on my PayPal account indeed. Worse still, my balance as a micro-entrepreneur (on the URSSAF website) was now showing a red -1 €. Guess what! I had to regularize my situation forthwith.

Murphy’s law

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.Col. John Paul Stapp

Technically speaking, it is not a law, but rather an epigram. It was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working at Muroc Army Air Field (later renamed Edwards Air Force Base) in 1949. While the phrase was indeed coined (by Col. John Paul Stapp) in adverse reaction to something Murphy said, this is an old law that had been around for years in a more basic form.

The basic premise of Murphy’s Law – If it can’t go wrong, it’s going to go wrong anyway – reflects the pessimism of life that many people point to and find comfort in when things just don’t go their way. In other words, if something goes wrong, it will … and at the worst possible moment and in the worst possible way.

Although Murphy’s Law might not be 100% correct when scientifically tested, it occasionally turns out to be true.Hussain Kanchwala

I called PayPal again; I was resolute to get some answers. I received one, but not the one I was expected. The person, who was conversant with this topic, explained to me that my PayPal IBAN could only work if the other party – be it a person, a company, or a French administration – has a PayPal account as well. That simple! On the one hand, I was glad to obtain an explanation. On the other, I was furious that, after so many calls, no one ever told me that priceless bit of information.


To sum up, URSSAF seems not to have a PayPal account. Therefore, there was no way for me to regularize my situation – i.e. to pay my one-euro contribution – with PayPal. Using my Personal bank account was not an option!

Houston, we have a problem!

I had to find a way to pay this damn one-euro tax – forthwith – upon financial penalty. To gain some time, I immediately3 wrote to the French administration:

Dear Sir or Madam,

My one-euro contribution was not debited from my PayPal Pro account and my balance is now -1 €. Is there a compatibility problem with my method of payment (IBAN and BIC of my PayPal Pro account)? I have read, for example, that some systems do not accept IBAN starting with DE. If this is the case, what solution do you propose to regularize the situation as quickly as possible?

Thank you for your help.

To be continued…

1 When I was looking for the IBAN of my account, I indeed faced several rebuffs before getting a person willing to help (see Easier said than done). ^
2 The day I opened this account – about 30 years ago! As if, I would have read, and what is more remembered, all of the fine print in the contract that I don’t even recall signing 30 years earlier. ^
3 February 5. As for their reply, it came a month later: I invite you to regularize your situation as soon as possible and to submit a request for the remission of late payment penalties. Your payment by PayPal Pro was not accepted by our system. You cannot pay your contributions by this method of payment. ^

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