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American Translator sending invoice to Germany
Thread poster: xxxLTooth

xxxLTooth
United States
Local time: 02:22
German to English
Jan 11, 2010

Hi!

I'm new to the translation business and have run into my first hurdle. A German client wants me to send them an invoice with either a Steuernummer or a Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer. I have neither. It was a small job that came to me informally and I naively thought it would be paid informally, too, ie without taxes or invoice. (Big mistake and I'm regretting it already!)

How should I proceed? And should I be worried that the client is trying to get out of paying me?

I'm based in the US, so the job is exported, so I don't think I need to worry about MwSt/VAT.

I'd appreciate any advice you can offer!

Best,
Laurence


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:22
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
In Germany, the invoicing formalities need to be carried out correctly Jan 11, 2010

Hi Laurence,

In Germany we have not heard of such a thing as a small job not involving an invoice. We do not have such informal practices here.

The VAT ID does not apply in this case. The other number mentioned - the Steuernummer - is a form of identification that every person in Germany has. Perhaps you have an equivalent number, i.e. your own personal tax ID in your own country? If so, then write it on your invoice somewhere. The agency needs an invoice, however, for accounting purposes.

I see nothing in particular to regret. If you find the amount of the invoice to be very small, perhaps you can ascertain whether you are likely to get further work from the same agency, in which case you could invoice a few small jobs together eventually.

Astrid


 

xxxLTooth
United States
Local time: 02:22
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Social Security Number? Jan 11, 2010

Dear Astrid,

Thank you for your prompt reply!

As an American, I have a Social Security Number (SSN), which is how I am identified by the IRS. I don't know what a German tax office can do with my SSN, though. Also, I don't like distributing it if I don't have to. Still, it's the only official thing that I have, so I guess I'll put it on.

The client is private, not an agency. I don't plan on anymore work coming from them.

I really appreciate your support!

Cheers,
Laurence


 

Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Dutch to German
+ ...
No reason to disclose your SSN Jan 11, 2010

You are entirely right: German tax autohorities do not care about your Social Security Number, in fact they do not even care whether or not you pay your taxes in your own country, because you are simply not a German tax payer. And given the fact that the client is a private client who - as I assume - is not a regular translation client, he was probably uncertain about what needs to be on an invoice and some overzealous tax adviser told him that the inovice has to have a tax number on it (which is true for invoices within Germany, AFAIK).

You know what, if the client wants an invoice, issue him one and just put any number on there. Maybe combine it with some letters to make it look "professional", just for the sake of peace. And move on to clients who know what they are doing.


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:22
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, that number will do fine Jan 11, 2010

Hi Laurence,

It is just that we live by rules here in Germany, and people in offices are concerned with keeping those rules.

Your social security number will be perfect, as it is your equivalent of our "Steuernummer". Just quote it, and it is unlikely that any further questions will be asked. Your client is likely to be concerned with keeping the rule about extracting a number from you rather than caring about what purpose (if any) the number serves in this case.

Best regards,

Astrid


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 00:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never you SSN Jan 11, 2010

Giving out your Social Security Number to anyone other than the Tax man exposes you to identity theft. We are warned over and over again never to do that.

 

Andrzej Lejman  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:22
Member (2004)
German to Polish
+ ...
Please, don't be so serious Jan 11, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hi Laurence,

It is just that we live by rules here in Germany, and people in offices are concerned with keeping those rules.


15% of German GDP are generated by black economy.

Regards

A.

[Edited at 2010-01-11 17:47 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:22
English to German
+ ...
Maybe they just wanted some kind of ID Jan 11, 2010

I noticed that your profile page states Kentucky as your state of residence but the map shows Kansas.

Never, ever give away your social security number. Anyone can apply for a credit card online with this number.

I have been asked for my tax ID # only once (by a clueless German client) and I gave them our Federal Employer Identification Number.


 

xxxLTooth
United States
Local time: 02:22
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Good Info - Thanks! Jan 11, 2010

Thank you to everyone who replied!

I don't feel great about giving my SSN out. Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way!

Nicole: I checked the map and you're right, it does say I'm in Kansas. I just looked out the window, though, and there's still Bluegrass, albeit under some snowicon_smile.gif I'll have to figure out how to update the map!

Thanks, again!

Laurence


 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:22
French to German
+ ...
Clueless is THE word Jan 11, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I have been asked for my tax ID # only once (by a clueless German client) and I gave them our Federal Employer Identification Number.


Some people tend to assume that the whole wide world just has to conform to what they see in their backyard - not the way to go!


 

Mr Florida
Local time: 02:22
German to English
+ ...
UStG Jan 12, 2010

There is nothing clueless about it. German law stipulates certain requirements for acceptable invoices, and your tax number is one of them, ref. http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ustg_1980/__14.html .

Your tax ID is your SSN or the EIN of your company. You have to send your invoices on paper (98 cent stamp at the time of this writing) or via fax since you have no access to a "qualified electronic signature" for e-mail (simply put, issued in Germany only).

You should also have the following statement on your invoice: "Die Umsatzsteuerschuld aus dieser Leistung wird gem. § 13b UstG auf den Empfänger der Leistung übertragen."

[Edited at 2010-01-12 02:35 GMT]


 

Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:22
English to Russian
+ ...
never ever? Jan 12, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Never, ever give away your social security number. Anyone can apply for a credit card online with this number.


You now made me all worried. Generally I avoid providing my SNN. There were couple of U.S. agencies, and I've been working with them for quite a while, that requested my SNN and I provided it to them when signing the contract. Every single invoice I sent to them electronically was bearing my SNN. At the end of the year I would receive 1099 from them, so I was assuming that all this serves tax purposes. Was I wrong doing it?


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:22
English to German
+ ...
Not quite. Jan 12, 2010

Mr Florida wrote:

There is nothing clueless about it. German law stipulates certain requirements for acceptable invoices, and your tax number is one of them, ref. http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ustg_1980/__14.html .


It says in this link: "die dem leistenden Unternehmer vom Finanzamt erteilte Steuernummer oder die ihm vom Bundeszentralamt für Steuern erteilte Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer"

There is no such thing as a German Finanzamt or a Bundeszentralamt für Steuern in the US. Therefore, there is no such number. They couldn't work with a SSN / FEIN anyway.

You have to send your invoices on paper (98 cent stamp at the time of this writing) or via fax since you have no access to a "qualified electronic signature" for e-mail (simply put, issued in Germany only).


My German and other European clients accept PDFs.

You should also have the following statement on your invoice: "Die Umsatzsteuerschuld aus dieser Leistung wird gem. § 13b UstG auf den Empfänger der Leistung übertragen."


If I would have to quote the laws of each and every country where our clients are located, I would have to hire a lawyer.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:22
English to German
+ ...
Hi Anait Jan 12, 2010

Anait wrote:

You now made me all worried. Generally I avoid providing my SNN. There were couple of U.S. agencies, and I've been working with them for quite a while, that requested my SNN and I provided it to them when signing the contract. Every single invoice I sent to them electronically was bearing my SNN. At the end of the year I would receive 1099 from them, so I was assuming that all this serves tax purposes. Was I wrong doing it?


My regular clients send me a 1099 on an annual basis, which I will fill out (company name, address and signature) and send it to their accounting department. At the end of the year I will receive a summary which I can use for tax purposes. This is a once a year thing. Other than that I never write SSN / FEIN on any piece of correspondence.


 

Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Dutch to German
+ ...
No USt on that invoice Jan 12, 2010

Mr Florida wrote:

There is nothing clueless about it. German law stipulates certain requirements for acceptable invoices, and your tax number is one of them, ref. http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/ustg_1980/__14.html .

ou should also have the following statement on your invoice: "Die Umsatzsteuerschuld aus dieser Leistung wird gem. § 13b UstG auf den Empfänger der Leistung übertragen." [/quote]

You are quoting the UStG, but that does not apply here.

What you quote here makes perfect sense as long as it is an invoice sent WITHIN the EU. An invoice from the US to Germany does not even contain any VAT, neither from the States (where it does not exist, sales tax is something different and is not applied to this invoice) nor in any European country, so nothing at all will be "übertragen". In other words: this statement is entirely obsolete.



[Edited at 2010-01-12 08:43 GMT]


 
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American Translator sending invoice to Germany

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