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Setting up as Freelance in Florida USA
Thread poster: Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
French to English
+ ...
Aug 16, 2013

I'm looking for some advice on setting up as a freelancer in the US, more specifically Florida.

I will be moving there permanently next month and I would like to get set up and start working again as soon as I arrive.

I'm a permanent resident (green card) with a social security number already.

I'm wondering what exactly do I need to do now to get set up? I've been reading a number of things online, however each give different information and so I'd love to hear from someone who has successfully done this in the past.

I also have questions about VAT charges to customers both within the US and in Europe. Help and information on this would be great.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 00:31
French to English
+ ...
an LLC? Aug 16, 2013

Hi, have you looked into setting up an LLC?

As far as I've read, you can begin the process before even going to the US. There are also lots of books on setting one up.

Best,
Vera


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just start working Aug 16, 2013

There are no formalities at all to becoming a freelancer in the USA, just make sure you pay the IRS on a "more or less" quarterly basis, because instead of withholding, you have to pay the money in yourself according to your estimated tax liability. I understand that Florida has no state income tax.

There is no VAT in the US.

So it's that easy... just start working.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Aug 16, 2013

I did this six years ago from the UK, and it was pretty simple. You'll need to submit federal and state tax returns next year, but you don't need to tell the IRS before then. I strongly recommend getting an accountant - I used to do my own taxes in the UK, but I find it much more complicated here.

We don't have VAT here. We do have state sales taxes, but they generally apply to sales of goods, not services.

Joining the ATA is a good idea, though I only get a trickle of work from being on their website, and most of my new customers still arrive via the ITI. The vast majority of my work comes from Europe, and I was pleasantly surprised that most of my existing customers stayed with me. You can actually work the time difference to your advantage, since they can send you a job at their close of play and get it back first thing in the morning.

Let me know if you have any other specific questions, and good luck!





[Edited at 2013-08-16 16:16 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:31
English to Polish
+ ...
Some tips Aug 16, 2013

You'll need to spruce up some good marketing, beginning with a good website. Make your e-mail address and phone number public knowledge. Litter the pavements and window sills with your business cards. Go where the clients go, especially business associations and industry conferences. Establish credibility – with credentials and with written materials that show you can impart some expertise in your chosen field on others (publications should work).

Regarding certifications, the difference between BrE and AmE is overestimated, you'll do fine with DipTrans, IoL & ITI membership and such like, but it'd be a shame not to try and join the ATA and get certified. Also, some gov't agencies in the States have their own testing and certification programmes, you could be interested in those. In the long run, getting some credentials from a US university wouldn't be a bad idea, or even an LLM degree for non-lawyers if you're actually into legal translation, certified translation etc. (there are some equivalents in other fields, where you don't need to sit entire 3-5 years to make a degree, as long as you already have one in a different field).

Also, go and win some competitions if you can find any that are relevant to your practice.

Good luck.


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Paul Rankin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks! Aug 16, 2013

Thanks for the help so far.

I'm going to talk to someone today about possibly having to get a home occupancy permit and a general business license. Henry do you think I will not need such things then?

I'm also reading that for clients paying me over 600 $ in the year, they will have to fill out specific tax forms and send them to the IRS. Can anyone shed some more light on this?

In any case I hope to find answers to this today. I appreciate all your help and will reply with the answers I found today.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree. Just start working Aug 16, 2013

You don't really need anything-- of course you could do certain things if you wanted to, as for example start working as a company rather than an individual, but you don't really have to. A green card and a Social Security number is all you need. You may polish your resume, get some references in writing, since I assume most of your clients are in Europe, and think about advertising. You may also get in touch with some translation companies in the area, or even any other place. You could get some business cards with your new phone number and your e-mail address.

You don;'t need any type of permits to work from home as a translator -- if you wanted to have a dentist practice, or certain other types of practices, you may need a permit, and some activities cannot even be conducted from a residential building.

If you work for some companies on a freelance basis, they will send you a 1099 form in January of each year, so that you can pay taxes. Money received from private clients just has to be reported,such as some small amounts for Birth Certificates, reports, legal documents, etc. just get reported by you. I don't believe any clients would send any forms themselves to the IRS for such small jobs, but you can double-check it with an accountant.

[Edited at 2013-08-16 17:33 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:31
English to Polish
+ ...
Oh, and get the 'Red P' Aug 16, 2013

You should be able to expense Proz.com membership, and get yourself the 'Red P' while at it. The 'Red P' requires no additional fees but offers a powerful extension of whatever additional visibility you have by virtue of simple membership. You will need a 300-400 word sample that shows you can translate adequately for professional purposes (the 'adequate' part seems to refer to the type of quality you won't ensure in a standard QA process, as spelling, grammar etc. are expected to be perfect rather), some credentials, some referrals to vouch for your translation ability and your business reliability, perhaps a little more that the refereeing staff will let you know.

Also, you may be interested in my humble article about some basics, published two and a half months ago. Actually, the links inside are worth more than the article itself. As a freelance translator you will be an entrepreneur, which is all the more true if you decide to pursue direct clients aggressively instead of mostly sticking with agencies like so many translators do. So the sooner you start building your own blue ocean and your own golden circle the better off you are. You might also be interested in Marta Stelmaszak's new résumé e-book (not that anything's wrong with yours; in fact, yours is pretty good) and her other writing. I keep mentioning her all the time to everybody who asks this type of questions, but I know her personally, and she's basically a genius apart from being about the only proper translator AND proper business coach you can find online instead of people who have only limited knowledge of either aspect.

[Edited at 2013-08-16 17:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-08-16 17:52 GMT]


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Paul Rankin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks again Aug 16, 2013

Thanks for all your help and comments. I was told that all I needed to do was apply for an EIN number, which was nice and easy to do.

I also had to go and get myself a business tax receipt, which was also quick to do but had to go to the tax collectors office.

I was advised to open a separate business bank account to use for payments etc. Does anyone have experience with this?

Now all I have left to organise is my tax forms and what I need to send to clients in order for them to pay me correctly.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:31
English to Polish
+ ...
Separate biz account Aug 17, 2013

You don't really want private stuff on your biz account. If you have a biz account and it gets frozen by the powers that be, chances are your private one will be left alone for a while.

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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:31
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Some notes Aug 17, 2013

An EIN is optional for a sole proprietor/individual (though desirable so you don't have to send everyone your SSN, which is sensitive).
As others have said, you just start working as a sole proprietor, and there are really no advance set-up or licensing requirements for translators.
One of the features of a corporation is that you have the flexibility to allocate your income between wages (for yourself as an employee) and distributions (basically dividends as an owner), or even leaving it in your corporation. Depending on your particular situation and volume of business, upping one or the other may result in tax advantages for you (within reason - keep ex-presidential candidate/multimillionaire personal injury attorney John Edwards in mind as a cautionary tale!). However, paperwork requirements for a corporation are obviously more burdensome.
Definitely find and stick with a good accountant.


[Edited at 2013-08-17 08:17 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
Russian to English
+ ...
You don't need an EIN number Aug 17, 2013

paulrankin wrote:

Thanks for all your help and comments. I was told that all I needed to do was apply for an EIN number, which was nice and easy to do.

I also had to go and get myself a business tax receipt, which was also quick to do but had to go to the tax collectors office.

I was advised to open a separate business bank account to use for payments etc. Does anyone have experience with this?

Now all I have left to organise is my tax forms and what I need to send to clients in order for them to pay me correctly.



although,of course, you may get one if you wish, but then you may have to register your business at the County Clerk's Office,or even as a corporation with the State.

You just have to pay quarterly taxes -- you can download the form from the IRS. They also have a lot of information about small businesses on their site.

You don't send any tax forms to the clients, unless some companies ask you for a verification of your Social Security number and your your immigration status. The only thing that has to be sent to the clients is the bill, sometimes a contract before you are given the task of translating something for them.

There are advantages and disadvantages of working as a corporation. I think it might be easier to start as a self-proprietor. Corporations pay much higher taxes, and the accounting is more complicated.



[Edited at 2013-08-17 10:48 GMT]


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finnword1
United States
Local time: 23:31
English to Finnish
+ ...
W-9 tax form Aug 17, 2013

paulrankin wrote:

Thanks for the help so far.

I'm going to talk to someone today about possibly having to get a home occupancy permit and a general business license. Henry do you think I will not need such things then?

I'm also reading that for clients paying me over 600 $ in the year, they will have to fill out specific tax forms and send them to the IRS. Can anyone shed some more light on this?

In any case I hope to find answers to this today. I appreciate all your help and will reply with the answers I found today.


[Edited at 2013-08-17 14:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-08-17 14:42 GMT]

Your clients may ask for W-9 form even if they don't expect to pay you over $600.00 annually. It's a simple for that takes abou two minutes to fill and sign. You can sign, scan and save it, so you don't have to do it more than once.

[Edited at 2013-08-17 14:46 GMT]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Complications Aug 18, 2013

Other people here have addressed other questions. Forget about a business license, occupancy permit or whatever. I have been working for 42 years with none of those. However, you do need to pay "self'employment tax" to the IRS, check that out on the Net. It is very simple, they just want the money. And clients will want the W-9 and they are entitled to it; look it up also, it is very simple. An SSN will do, no EIN. Again, if you are in Florida, I believe there is no state income tax. There is none here in Texas where I live either.

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Paul Rankin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
what about bank accounts Aug 18, 2013

Henry Hinds wrote:

Other people here have addressed other questions. Forget about a business license, occupancy permit or whatever. I have been working for 42 years with none of those. However, you do need to pay "self'employment tax" to the IRS, check that out on the Net. It is very simple, they just want the money. And clients will want the W-9 and they are entitled to it; look it up also, it is very simple. An SSN will do, no EIN. Again, if you are in Florida, I believe there is no state income tax. There is none here in Texas where I live either.


Do you use your personal bank account or a business account for payments? If you are only using your personal account, have you ever run into problems with this regarding tax issues?

Thanks again


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Setting up as Freelance in Florida USA

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