I became a sole trader in 2011 when I was working regularly for Outi Heiskanen. She didn’t want to be defined as “an employer” in her tax reports (which is very costly in Finland) and at the time becoming an entrepreneur felt like fun idea… I was active in building exhibitions for various parties and involved in serious art transportation ventures. We even talked about buying a van with a friend. Becoming an entrepreneur was a serious joke. The status has enabled me to discuss economics more convincingly. As an entrepreneur I’m a subject in economics and my critique of capitalism is more founded and more personal. Becoming an entrepreneur was an accelerationist effort, which culminated my involvement with Ore.e Refineries.
Sending bills is still fun but every year I regret not setting up a co-operative instead. Today my grief is related to sole trader taxation regulations when billing cities and municipalities.
As a sole trader I’m responsible for organizing my own pension. If earn more than 8000€ a year as an entrepreneur, I’m legally obligated to join a pension trust and to pay around 100€ a month in pension insurance premiums. The minimum “YEL-insurance” I’d have to pay a year is 1200€, which is too much for me (and many other sole traders working in the culture sector). This is why I don’t send more than 8000€ worth of bills a year. There are various very simple and legal tricks to do this. During the fall I negotiate that I can send my bill the next year and for bigger gigs I setup an temporary employer statuses with the organizations that hire me. For the past four years I’ve only send out bills for small 200-400€ odd jobs.
As a result I haven’t payed any pension fees. This is not because I wouldn’t want to… It’s just too expensive and as a part of my income comes from artist grants I dream that I’ll personally get an artist pension for myself (If I manage to survive as an artist for the next 33 years).
The government needs new forms of income, so that it can afford for the baby boom generation’s pensions. There are various aggressive schemes at work which skim funds for pensions from every possible monetary transaction. Legislation for small scale business is quite unfair. “By law, entrepreneurs under the age of 53 are required to pay 23.7 percent of their earnings in pension insurance, while salaried workers contribute just over five percent.” YLE explains in a 2015 article.
I wrote about the Record Singers group for an Artsi-museum related book. The writing fee was decent but as the museum is run by the municipality there is a cunning scheme in legislation, which the government will use to deduct a “pension” from my writer’s fee (More on the scheme in Finnish). This is saddening. I made the text almost for free. I don’t regret making it. I did a good job.
I’m not bitter about anything but I think that the baby boomers generation should have spend their salaries more smartly. Additional funds for pensions should be harvested by disallowing (and re-distributing) pensions that are over 2 300€/month (Statistics on pensions in Finland found here). I hate the feeling that a petitioner makes more money than I do and that young forced-entrepreneurs are paying for their second cars, their trips to Thailand and the renovation of their summer houses (which remain empty most of the year and none from my generation will be able to visit as we can’t afford the gas money).