Professional advisors - each to his own
Thread poster: Nikki Scott-Despaigne

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:32
French to English
May 28, 2001


I am a translator, not an accountant. I can add up, subtract, multiply and divide. At a push, I can even perform all sorts of subsidiary necessary and unnecessary mathematical feats. Never the less, although my legal training has provided me with some notions of what double entry bookkeeping is all about, I do not have the professional background of an accountant. I needed help before I began so signed up with a Centre de Gestion. These are regionally located accountancy management centres, which oversee your book keeping in exchange for a number of advantages, essentially fiscal, not least of which is a 20% abatement on income tax. You do your own bookkeeping, that is your job, not theirs. But they can be a great help in lots of minor but very useful ways in providing hints as to how a particular item of expenditure might best be included for tax purposes. They provide lectures and documentation (limited, I know, but there none the less) on various appropriate changes in the law and so on which directly concern your profession / business status. Most are profession related. Butchers have their own Centre as do Hotel-owners, doctors etc... Mine is not translation specific but for all liberal professions in my area who wish to join.

As time goes on, and my business develops, I am beginning to think about taking on an accountant. I am happy to spend money (?!) if it saves me time and/or money, preferably both. How many of you out there find it useful.

I\'m not interested in how much you pay because that depends what he does for you. But to what extent does he/she help?


Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:32
English to Dutch
+ ...
May 28, 2001

Good points here!

I strongly advise anyone to hire the services of a professional (external)accountant, especially when you live or reside in Europe.

That\'s what I decided to do already 15 years ago and I can only say that it does help a lot.

Moreover, whenever your tax people would decide to come and have a closer look at your books (here in Belgium, they can do so whenever they feel like, but recently a more or less official decision was made to inspect one\'s books only once every 6 years (both VAT and tax control - quite thorough inspection, I might add) unless they suspect something \'fishy\' is going on), your accountant will see to it (read: should see to it) that you survive this without getting hurticon_smile.gif

As for payment/fees etc: do make sure you make an agreement with your accountant before s/he starts working for you (e.g. fee based on the annual volume of incoming/outgoing invoices, fee per hour etc).

As for the invoicing itself, make sure you always mention clearly:


- Phone, fax, email

- VAT number (if applicable)

- Registration number (if applicable)

- FULL BANKING DETAILS, including full particulars of your bank, bank account number and SWIFT address - if you already have an IBAN number, please mention this clearly as well.

Last but not least, always see to it that the name of your account matches the name mentioned on the invoice.

In many cases, banks do return payment to the sender if the names don\'t match or if the account number isn\'t exact etc and you may end up waiting for a couple of months before you get paid.

I occasionally outsource work myself and you should see how many times I have to revert incoming invoices because of missing details.


On 2001-05-28 07:29, CTrans wrote:

Your concerns tie in with what I said about the European tax situation for freelancers in some other forum.

Honestly, if I were to live in Europe, I would get myself a professional accountant to help me through the jungle of rules and regulations - it\'s either that or taking courses in accounting myself.

Over here, in Canada, the tax situation is fairly straightforward; in effect, you won\'t need an accountant. I only use an accounting office for completing and filing my income tax return due at the end of April - the whole cost for that is around Can$140 (about £70), which is my total spending on accounting services for the whole year.

I handle all other aspects myself - bookkeeping, paying my quarterly instalments of the Goods and Services tax, pension plans, investments, etc.

[ This Message was edited by: CTrans on 2001-05-28 07:31 ]


Aida Hakobyan
Russian to English
+ ...
Jun 1, 2001

Here in Armenia it\'s not better. I was working as a freelance translator and a month ago I was invited to become the head of our family ( actually my husband\'s family)business which involves translation, web creation, programming. I was very much surprised what big contrasts have our laws. Fired the accountant because found a lot of faults in his bookkeeping and I would tell you that this is the next difficult decesion for me after mariage.

You need to think very well before hiring some accountant.

Plus I began to study the laws myself, to be able to check his work.


Uwe Schwenk (X)
Local time: 22:32
English to German
Jun 25, 2001

Just a Tip: In case you want to get yourself some accounting software, in order to either maintain somewhat a control for yourself, or to just streamline the process between you and your accountant, check with the accountant, which program he/she is using. Although the conversation and/or integrating different accounting packages is feasible, if you use the same than your accountant, it will save some headaches.

However, the downside is that you have to learn yet another piece of software.


Dave Simons
Local time: 05:32
French to English
Here's a price Feb 28, 2002

A friend of mine -- who\'s been \"profession libérale\" a lot longer than I have -- hired an accountant to do his accountancy once and paid him 15,000 francs (2300 euros) for a year. Without wanting to tar all accountants with the same brush, he reckoned that the added value of this accountant, including a generous allowance for the time he saved, was probably about a quarter of what he was paid. And as for his advice, my friend insists he just kept on repeating what he (my friend) had already told him. OK, I know he\'s prone to exaggeration, so take all that with a pinch of salt, but he felt strongly enough never to repeat the experiment.

Let\'s be honest: freelance translation isn\'t a complicated business with thousands of cost centres, a big supply chain, huge long term investments, etc. You can almost work out your assets and liabilities in your head. I would work mine out in my head if there wasn\'t a law obliging me to do otherwise. Hire a tax adviser, certainly, but consider very carefully what advantages having a full-blooded accountant would bring.


PaulaMac (X)
French to English
+ ...
Bookkeeping and taxes: Canada Mar 1, 2002

I do all my own bookkeeping - time-consuming, yes, but I keep control, and know exactly what is coming in and what is going out. HOWEVER, (and this is a big however) I have a chartered accountant do my annual tax returns, both corporate and personal, and pay him Cdn$1200 - $2000 a year. Seems like a lot, but what he saves me in taxes is worth that several times over. But shop around - I was using another CA and paying roughly the same amount, but he was extremely conservative (risk-aversive is putting it politely). The new accountant went back over my books for four years, found many tax deductions that were not taken, and got me a nice refund. It pays to shop around, and find an accountant who suits your style/philosophy!


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