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need insight in regard to receiving payment
Thread poster: gracesunny

Local time: 20:29
English to Chinese
+ ...
Nov 7, 2006

Dear fellow freelancer working in U.S.,


I am new to this business. I have need your insight in regard to receiving payment from translation agency.

Frist, I wonder if there is any legal issue I should aware in regard to receiving payment from translation agency. i.e. tax law.
Second, what should I expect to receive once I accept an assignment? Should I receive a purchase order or should I issue a invoice to my customer? I would like to have some sort of written form of payment agrrement.
Third, when the payment term of 2 weeks after invoice, that date is used for the invoice date, the time the assignment is accepted or the date the final translation is delivered?

Your imput is highly appreciated.

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Ivo Lang  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:29
Member (2003)
English to German
Never without PO Nov 7, 2006


There is no rule that applies to each and every country with regard to POs and payment terms in general but there are some rules I would always apply. Firstly, I would never start any translation work without a PO, especially not with new agencies I work for. With agencies I know and who are trustworthy, I can, at times, do without such a formal PO. If you do not have a PO number/reference, you should at least insist on the project manager stating the scope and the agreed rate for the work to be carried out in an email, otherwise you don't have anything if it comes to disputes.
Secondly, the time after which you can expect to be paid: There again, this time frame differs greatly, some agencies pay after 2 weeks, others after one month (seems to be pretty much standard) and others again after 2 months (from date of invoice). These terms concering payment should be agreed before you start work.

Hope this was of some help to you.

Good luck.


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peiling  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
Partial member (2006)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Hi Grace Nov 7, 2006

You might find some useful information on taxes here:,,id=99930,00.html
Yes, as Ivo said you should receive a PO with the assignment. Don't ever start a project without one. You then invoice the client when you deliver the assignment.
Usually payment is calculated from the invoice date, i.e., the date of delivery.
Hope this helps.

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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
PO's are more U.S/European Nov 7, 2006

Dear colleagues:

I imagine that the level of formality varies from place to place. In Israel, all matters tend to be more informal, including business. I always have an email statement on price and deadline with my clients. I have almost never received or issued a P.O. The few ones that I have received came from Austria/Germany.

As long as the terms are clear, do as the Romans do.

Stephen Rifkind

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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:29
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Addressing your issues Nov 8, 2006

For 1. You should consult your tax expert about your tax status. However, taxes are due on any money you earn from translation and money is generally not withheld to pay the IRS or your state's tax authority. So you may need to pay estimated taxes unless you have enough other income to avoid penalties for late payment of taxes (and arrange for withholding from this other income).

For 2. You shouldn't issue an invoice until you're done with the job. (If your rate is based on target text, you won't know until you're done, anyway.) If you don't have some evidence that they agreed to pay you, you're likely to be in a bad position if there's a dispute. Reputable translation agencies will issue a purchase order if you ask for one (and often even if you don't). They don't want disputes either.

For 3. That is something that differs from one client to another. You should clarify this issue before you start. I know of nothing illegal about any of the three options you list, but you need to agree with your client about which applies.

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Local time: 20:29
English to Chinese
+ ...
thank you for your solid advice and useful resource Nov 12, 2006

Thank you so much for the insights. They are very helpful. It is heart warming to receive helps from those kind hearts that I don't even know.


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