Country of residence
Thread poster: Marc Svetov

Marc Svetov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:54
Member (2007)
German to English
Feb 17, 2012

I have been living in Berlin for many years and can make a living by working for a group of half a dozen agencies, four of which are located in Germany, one in Austria and one in New Zealand. I am planning on moving to the United States to the West Coast, San Francisco to be exact. I imagine I can carry my customers with me, as well as find new customers in the United States and Canada, but I am hesitant about broaching the subject with my clients for fear they will say: "We can't work with you." This is irrational, admittedly, due to the fact they have 100% relied on me for years. I have simply misgivings about broaching the subject, although it definitely will have to be addressed once I have moved. Is this an individual matter, i.e. agency by agency differs, as to how the agencies react? It theoretically shouldn't matter where I live, since I do everything via the Internet. But I don't know. I will maintain my German bank account. How is it with taxes? I will certainly have to pay U.S. taxes. Is it advisable to keep my German account to facilitate payments from EU customers? How do other translators do it who have EU customers and live in the United States or Canada? I know there are many questions in my topic here, but if anyone has anything to add about keeping an, in a sense, having "portable" customers when moving from Europe to the States or Canada; and in terms of money matters; please let me know!

[Edited at 2012-02-17 10:58 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
See an accountant Feb 17, 2012

Marc Svetov wrote:

I have been living in Berlin for many years and can make a living by working for a group of half a dozen agencies, four of which are located in Germany, one in Austria and one in New Zealand. I am planning on moving to the United States to the West Coast, San Francisco to be exact. I imagine I can carry my customers with me, as well as find new customers in the United States and Canada, but I am hesitant about broaching the subject with my clients for fear they will say: "We can't work with you." This is irrational, admittedly, due to the favt they have 100% relied on me for years. I have simply misgivings about broaching the subject, although it definitely will have to be addressed once I have moved. Is this an individual matter, i.e. agency by agency differs, as to how the agencies react? It theoretically shouldn't matter where I live, since I do everything via the Internet. But I don't know. I will maintain my German bank account. How is it with taxes? I will certainly have to pay U.S. taxes. Is it advisable to keep my German account to facilitate payments from EU customers? How do other translators do it who have EU customers and live in the United States or Canada? I know there are many questions in my topic here, but if anyone has anything to add about keeping an, in a sense, having "portable" customers when moving from Europe to the States or Canada; and in terms of money matters; please let me know!


The only way to get credible answers to all these questions is to get yourself a good accountant, after you move to SF.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Time difference Feb 17, 2012

I reckon that you will have to take the local time into account. In the Bay Area, you will be 9 hours away from them, so if they email you at 10 AM about a job they will not probably receive a reply until 2 PM European time, and that only if you are really the early bird. If you like to sleep well into the morning... forget about keeping your German customers pleased.

If you always say yes to these agencies (I mean that they always send jobs you can do comfortably), keeping the customers will be easy since they will send you the jobs and will assume you can take care of them. They will be happy with a confirmation later in their day.

If you do bigger jobs for these agencies and ocasionally say no to them... they might not be that sure that they can use you in the long run. I reckon it would make sense to join the ATA, get ATA-certified as soon as you land in the US, and look for customers in the US if you plan to stay there for good.

Now to the positive side: you will have plenty of time in your afternoon to take care of the urgent jobs sent over from Germany at the end of the European day. They will be very pleased to have their urgent translations ready when they arrive to the office in the morning.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Factor in exchange rates Feb 17, 2012

Marc Svetov wrote:
Is it advisable to keep my German account to facilitate payments from EU customers?


I'm sure some clients would be happier paying into a German bank account. On the other hand, you'll have to bear in mind that, if you're spending the money in Dollars, you need to maintain the same income regardless of changes in exchange rates.

How about encouraging them to pay by PayPal? They could pay euros into your dollar account, but you would lose a lot on PayPal's poor exchange rate and commission. What I do is keep several balances (EUR, USD, GBP) within my PayPal account. So my American clients (and others in various places around the world) pay me in USD and the money stays in my account in USD, so there's only the normal PayPal commission. I personally handle that by accepting the commission for invoices settled within 10 days and passing on the commission for payments 11-30 days. When I see something on the web that I want to buy, and it's priced in USD, then I pay by PayPal - costs me nothing to do that. And if I get too many USD then I can always choose the best time to convert them to EUR. If you're keeping some links with the EU then you might well want to continue having some funds in EUR. Of course, for this to work you have to have some reserve funds - if you need all your income for food etc then it won't work.

But I think things will be different for every client. You say you have a client in New Zealand, yet you're based in Germany. How does that work? There are already the problems of currency, time difference, etc, but you seem to be dealing OK with them. It'll be the same when you relocate. Just think how much easier it will be dealing with US clients!

Sheila


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
English to French
+ ...
We wary of the IRS Feb 17, 2012

Having a banking account in a foreign country will require so much reporting to the IRS that it may not be worth keeping.

 

Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Disagree/keep the bank accounts/other Feb 17, 2012

JL01 wrote:
Having a banking account in a foreign country will require so much reporting to the IRS that it may not be worth keeping.

I happen to be a US citizen (now also Australian citizen) who has also lived in both Germany and now Australia. You should not have any difficulties with IRS paperwork with respect to keeping foreign bank accounts unless you are keeping bundles and bundles of cash tied up in foreign countries.

Is there a reporting requirement? Yes. Is it "so much"? No. Unless you have complex investments in foreign countries and tons of interest and/or capital gains to report, you will only have a few lines on one sheet of paper to fill out, and I think that is only if you keep over $10k in the foreign bank account.

I *highly* recommend maintaining your bank accounts in different countries whenever you can. It is *very* convenient for your clients, and you can determine for yourself how your money is then transferred to whichever bank account you later need it and at what cost.

I travel every year, so I tend to keep a lot of the money that lands in my various accounts (US and German) there until needed, although I do take out money more often from my German account for my Australian expenses.

Tip: Deutsche Bank and Bank of America have a partnership arrangement by which you can use your debit card at their respective ATMs and a) get a very good exchange rate for the money you withdraw, and b) pay absolutely no transaction fee, commission fee, or other foreign exchange fee.

In other words, if you have (or get) a Deutsche Bank account in Germany, you can take your debit card with you to the US and withdraw your "German money" from any Bank of America ATM with absolutely no monetary penalty for doing so (and vice versa).

I have also used XE.trade to transfer money, this can be less expensive than international bank transfers, and they even have a new system in place whereby you can "bid" for certain exchange rates for your transaction.

PayPal accounts are another option, of course, but this tempts outsourcers to do annoying little things like pay by credit card - which you will end up paying for in the end.

Your biggest concern will be the time difference. In Australia I work nights to stay in touch with my European clients - but I love doing that, so that is no problem for me. On the other hand, I try to do the same thing (in reverse) when I'm in the States (getting up very very early - or simply staying up at night), but due to my personal rhythm I find this very, very difficult.

If you do intend to "keep" your European clients, be positive about it! There is nothing wrong with telling them about your intended move, but make it clear to them that you intend to be available for communications and translations whenever they need you (if this is true, of course). Explain to them how you intend to do this (change in hours, skype, on-call with smartphone, whatever), the most important thing is that they don't think you are leaving *them*. As long as you can convince them of that - and be available for them if you say you will - then you should not have a problem (especially if you keep your German bank account!).

Best of luck to you!
Janet


 

Elizabeth Faracini  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:54
Member (2010)
Italian to English
+ ...
Keep the bank account Feb 17, 2012

Hello Marc,

I also would suggest that you keep your European bank account. When I moved from Italy to the US, I kept my Italian account and it is much easier for some European clients. Also, I'm able to make online transfers from my Italian to my American account, so you may want to find out if your bank has that option as well. Some European clients pay me directly to my American account, and I simply write off the transfer fees as business expenses.
As far as I know, the IRS doesn't care if you have foreign accounts unless you are not declaring that money as income. As long as you declare it, you should be fine.
I agree with everyone else that the most difficult part is the time difference. My clients have never been bothered by my location though, and I think they got used to it after about a month.
As far as paying taxes here, you might want to check the self-employed individuals (unless you are planning to incorporate) section of the IRS website for more information on tax obligations. http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/selfemployed/index.html
Good luck!

Liz


 


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