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Dutch agency suddenly demanding VAR declaration and Chamber of Commerce extract
Thread poster: xxxJon O
xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
Apr 27, 2007

A Dutch agency for whom I've done regular work has suddenly told me that they cannot pay me until I provide them with a VAR declaration and an extract from the Chamber of Commerce. They only informed of this after several invoices were already overdue (older than 60 days) so as you can imagine, my impression of them has become rather less favourable. As I live and work in the UK I'm not quite sure what to do and even if these documents are obtainable? Any advice/suggestion?
Thanks,
Jon


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avantix  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:01
German to Dutch
+ ...
VAR for Dutch tax payers only Apr 27, 2007

In the Netherlands free-lancers need a VAR-declaration, but only if they are officially working from a Dutch address and/or have to pay Dutch taxes. So, if you live in the UK and pay UK income tax, they cannot require one.
I am not absolutely sure about the UK, but as far as I know it is not a must for free-lancers to register with the CoC. You could just ask your local CoC. If you don't have to register, there's no need to do so.
Anyhow, being registered or not, should have no bearing on their obligation to pay you. If they seriously think (which I doubt!!) that they would need any official documents, they should have informed you before sourcing out the job.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
VAR? Impossible Apr 27, 2007

Hi Jon,

do you even know what a VAR is? In case you don't, it means Verklaring Arbeids Relatie, and it is used by the Dutch Tax Office for freelancers to declare that they are indeed freelancers and not employed by some company. If you are employed by a company, they need to pay all sorts of social security premiums for you - if you live in the Netherlands, that is. See www.belastingdienst.nl - your profile says you can read Dutch, but they also have a section in English. Not sure it covers this topic, though.

Even if you were employed by them, it wouldn't matter for payment right now. If a VAR-declaration is needed, the Tax Office will want to see it, and if you cannot hand it over, they will make the company pay these social security premiums on your behalf, even after the fact.
But you don't live in the Netherlands, so the Dutch Tax Office couldn't care less about this, since you will not be living of Dutch Social Security.

To cut a long story short: this is nonsense. They need to pay you, no matter what. The fact that they come up with this nonsense after several invoices only makes matters worse. If there was any truth to this, they should have told you as soon as they received your first invoice.

Seems to me you shouldn't work for them anymore until they have paid all of your invoices. It sounds fishy to me.

Good luck!


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
It might be ignorance... Apr 27, 2007

I'm not sure this is foul play - they might actually be so ignorant as to think that what is required in the Netherlands, is required in other countries. Or someone just didn't pay attention, and asked for a VAR because they ask all their translators for a VAR.
So kindly inform them that this is all not needed, and surely a slight misunderstanding on their part.
Then press them for payment - because, no matter what, they're required to pay you for your work. Note that some agencies have very, very long payment terms - just today I was informed by an agency that they pay 60 (!) days after the invoice - and they start counting that on the first of the month. (So it could actually be 90 days...) You better check this agency's policy on this.


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks.. Apr 27, 2007

Yes I know what VAR stands for and I've discussed it with my accountant who also found the agency's request quite strange...It was just such a surprise as this is quite a large and reputable agency. Having said that, I have had some suspicions that their standards are slipping recently. For example, I had to return some proofreading work because the translation was simply too bad. It was an English text clearly written by an incompetent non-native speaker despite the agency's proud boast that they only work with natives. It's very disappointing..

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avsie  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
English to French
+ ...
And also copy of passport, bank statement.... Apr 27, 2007

If it's the same agency we're talking about, I got their mass-mailing message as well a few weeks ago; I think I sent them my contact information a few months ago but I never actually worked for them.

The list of documents to produce was quite interesting, to say the least. If they are dealing with freelancers, they should be aware that freelance translators aren't obliged to register at the Chamber of commerce in the Netherlands; they can register if they want to, but it's even possible that some Chambers might refuse their registration: translation is a "vrij beroep" and registration is not needed.

I also found quite disturbing that they were requesting for a copy of my passport of EU ID card or driver's licence, and a copy of a bank statement that is less than 4 weeks old. WHY?? Why would an agency want a copy of a bank statement???

Regarding the VAR, I have worked for a Dutch agency that has requested such a document and I was able to produce it. But I don't see why this would apply to translators outside of the Netherlands...

And all these documents were needed for the agency to send payment, the e-mail said. Or else, no payment... Needless to say, I am not going to work for them anytime soon!

[Edited at 2007-04-27 18:26]


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes that's the one... Apr 27, 2007

the bank statement request is very odd in my opinion..

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Blueboard Apr 27, 2007

Please make an entry in the Blueboard, if you haven't done so already.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
Have you asked the agency? Apr 27, 2007

Jon O wrote:

the bank statement request is very odd in my opinion..


I did - immediately - and was told the e-mail didn't apply to translators based outside the Netherlands and I could accordingly ignore it. All I was asked to do was to update my details on their website (as my details were up to date, nothing needed to be done).

Obviously, there's no way I'd be giving any agency a copy of my passport or especially my bank statements, and if any agency insisted, I'd simply terminate my relationship with them.

They aren't one of my regular clients by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly haven't experienced any problems with late payments (I work strictly on 30 days and arranged that from the outset as I was not prepared to accept the stated terms) - perhaps you should e-mail them directly or, even better, pick up a phone.

Sometimes it helps to be pro-active. Anyhow, I've drawn their attention to this forum posting and suggested they resolve/clarify the situation for translators who are not resident in the Netherlands ASAP.


BR
Deborah


[Edited at 2007-04-28 10:08]


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avsie  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:01
English to French
+ ...
Even for translators in the Netherlands Apr 28, 2007

Even for translators based in the Netherlands, I find the request for a copy of a bank statement very, very odd. Same goes for the copy of passport or other ID document.

I'm curious to know what is the rationale behind this.


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
i was on holiday.. Apr 28, 2007

when the mail was sent out so i didn't receive it until about two weeks later. I've only just got all my affairs back in order this week. I'll definitely be getting in touch with them on Monday as I have over 1000 Euro worth of invoices with them dating as far back as January..

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
Best of luck Jon, hope it all works out. Apr 28, 2007

Jon O wrote:

when the mail was sent out so i didn't receive it until about two weeks later. I've only just got all my affairs back in order this week. I'll definitely be getting in touch with them on Monday as I have over 1000 Euro worth of invoices with them dating as far back as January..


OK, that makes sense - you haven't had a chance yet.

Having unpaid invoices dating back to January is totally unacceptable, so thanks for the heads-up. I will certainly be monitoring things very closely, although I only have a very small invoice due for payment this month-end - they aren't one of my regulars.

As stated, I've had no payment issues - so perhaps you should ask them straight out why some translators and not others have been paid.

I received a payment of just over EUR 500 end of March, for example, for work completed in the previous month. Since then I haven't been available to do much other work as my regulars have kept me very busy, but I'd question the rationale of paying some invoices before others, for sure.

Sterkte, ek hoop alles werk Maandag vir jou uit - laat ons weet, hoor!
Debs



[Edited at 2007-04-28 10:07]


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
baie dankie Deborah vir jou advies... Apr 28, 2007

en ek sal jou seker laat weet hoe alles af loop, prettig weekend!

Jon


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Albert Stufkens  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:01
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...
ID and bank statement Apr 30, 2007

I do not find it strange to produce an ID. In The Netherlands agencies, employers, banks and even casinos are required by law to collect IDs of their employees or clients. This measure has been taken within the framework of preventing illegal activities, tax evasion and illegal immigrants or illegal employment by employers.

As to the requirement for producing a bank statement: agencies (and this goes for telephone companies too) do not necessarily want to know something about your financial affairs but rather proof or an indication of one's current address. IDs do not mention a current address, except for a driver's licence perhaps.

I translate and reside in The Netherlands.

Marie-Claude Falardeau wrote:

Even for translators based in the Netherlands, I find the request for a copy of a bank statement very, very odd. Same goes for the copy of passport or other ID document.

I'm curious to know what is the rationale behind this.


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Julie Allison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Here's what I've done Apr 30, 2007

Hi. Sorry to hear you're having trouble. I too am in the UK and I have been asked several times by agencies in mainland Europe to provide a VAT number. Of course, I am not yet VAT registered so what I have provided is my Tax Reference number, as I am registered as a sole trader with the Inland Revenue and this has always sufficed.
As for the Chamber of Commerce, well, this is no official register or anything for business people. For linguists associations such as the IOL or ITI are the required regulatory memberships required in order to practice your profession, just as most accountants are members of the Chartered Institute of Accountancy (or however the body calls itself) but not many in my area at least are members of the Chamber of Commerce.
The COC in my experience is more of a networking organization and has nothing to do with the UK government despite its official sounding name.
Perhaps overseas agencies are getting confused with their "Commercial Registers" which I understand are something more formal in European countries than what the COC actually is in the UK. (Forgive my lack of correct titles(oops!))
I hope this helps a little.


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