Persona Grata

Die Umsatzsteuer bei grenzüberschreitenden Dienstleistungen.

Yeah…a mouthful, ain’t it?  Roughly translated, it means ‘VAT and international (cross border) services’.  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this as I try to figure out the best way to freelance over here while working with clients in Germany.

It’s not quite as easy as I thought it would be. But I’m starting to get the feeling that maybe it’s also not that complicated.  It’s just that any legal text can be mind-numbing, and that in German is like – wow! I need a drink. And I really don’t drink.

You would think, in today’s Internet age, what with digital nomads, PayPal, Bitcoins and the like, that providing services cross-borders would not be such a hassle. But, you and I would be wrong. You have to make sure that it’s clear who pays what taxes to whom, lest you get in trouble with the IRS and the German Finanzamt – and you know, those are entities you don’t need to mess with.

I do need to understand, for my own sake, what it means for a German company to deal with someone who is based overseas, out of the EU. Because there are tax laws that govern even the most minute of incomes. The actual project I would be getting is not at all large, but it’s worth fighting for it if it means I can keep my client and freelance for more German companies in the future.

The German American Chamber of Commerce Legal Services team will answer some of my tax-related questions, they have said. So I shot off an email with a bunch of them, and am just waiting. I was never so thankful for such an institution. I used to wonder about those things – like, what are they good for, really? Now I know.

Funny all the things you need to simply offer your services to people who want and need and are willing to pay for them. I wonder if this is what ladies of the night often think to themselves…? Anyways, in fact, it’s kind of amazing, all the things you need just to become a legitimate entity. After 5 months, I am finally a fully functioning individual in the US, a persona grata, because in my possession are:

  1. A US residence visa
  2. A social security number
  3. A NJ driver’s license
  4. A US work permit
  5. A US bank account
  6. And an American credit card account – which is what you need to spend, spend! and build credit here in the States

Without all of the above, you are no one. It really gives me new found admiration for all those crossing borders illegally to eek out an existence. It’s hard enough to up and leave a place, but when you land somewhere where you are immediately outside of the system – that’s just rough.

With all of the above, someone like me can finally work, whether it be at a coffee shop or a Fortune 500 company, as a full-time employee or a freelancer, working the day or the night shift, whatever is good for the soul, and man, that feels really, undeniably good.

Right, speaking of, I happily have projects to attend to, so I will log out for now.

I have to remember to mention the cool content project, and the UN visit, in one of the next postings.

Night all, till next time!






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