Accountant for nomads | Monaco

Monaco is the famous principality in French Riviera and is well known for its rich and famous residents. I agree with many people that the place itself is beautiful, clean and safe, which partly explains why so many people would like to move in there. However, there is one major financial reason why it is as appealing as it is: the lack of income tax.

There are some features about Monaco which are not so well known. The official population is around 38 000 inhabitants including original Monegasques and residents with a foreign background. The unemployment rate is practically zero and as a matter of fact Monaco employs over 50 000 people on a daily basis! Thus, companies located in Monaco employ a huge amount of people living in surrounding areas in France or Italy. These are “normal”, hard-working people who pay their taxes.

It is true though that there is no personal income taxation in Monaco. It concerns people who live in Monaco and have a status of residence which is the key for all the financial benefits in the town. It’s not exceptionally expensive to hang out and live in Monaco. If you avoid certain exclusive restaurants and bars you don’t really spend more money than in any European capital. Food and daily consumables are available in markets and the price level is reasonable. Wine, of course, is much cheaper than for example in the Nordic countries. What makes the difference is housing. If you ever visit Monaco I suggest you have a look at the real estate ads. The acquisition prices or rents of quite moderate apartments are phenomenal. You can find a studio with less than a million euro but that’s about it. So this is the real downside of the zero taxation. The moral question might be that are you willing to pay to your local government for maintaining the society or real estate investors in Monaco? Fortunately that is not my question to answer.

There are a lot of stories how difficult it is to get the residence permit and how super rich you need to be.  That is not exactly how it is. There are two main requirements for a residence permit: you need to have a place to live in Monaco and you must be able to prove you can afford to live in the principality. In order to do that, you need to work in Monaco or if you don’t work you must have that huge bank balance. Since it is very difficult to find a job in Monaco you can always work in your own local company as entrepreneurs do everywhere.

It is not too difficult to start a SARL company and run your business through that. You might be used to a little lower share capital requirements, but 15,000 euro in Monaco is not unbearable. There is local help available for registration, but it is not too difficult to do it yourself if you can cope with written French. All the modern business services like virtual office, co-working spaces etc. are at your reach. Please note that the income of a company is not tax free. As a matter of fact, the tax rate is quite high 30%. However, if you work for your company and are a resident, it might be a good idea to pay you enough salary (tax rate 0%) and avoid showing too much profit in the company.

In the end I need to emphasize one big downside of being within Monaco’s zero taxation. You need to cut the ties, at least to a certain extent, with your original home country. You probably don’t want to end up in the situation where you have to pay income tax to your home country AND high rents in Monaco. In practise this usually means that your near family needs to be able to live with you in Monaco, you are not spending too much time in your original home and you are not a part of the social security in your home country anymore.

Please acknowledge two things regarding this post update: First, the author is not, and will not be, a Monaco resident. Secondly, this is a blog update of personal observations, not a guideline or any piece of consultation advice. That would need to be much more detailed. There are also more practical tax efficient options than Monaco to register a company for a nomad. For example, utilising the e-Residency in Estonia.

Author Mikko Ilves is an entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Board of Digibalance Group. More blog updates: www.digibalance.eu/blog

 

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Communication with accountant

Clear communication is one of the key issues when running your business successfully. It is, of course, important in marketing and sales but also with administrational relationships. I just had a meeting with a micro entrepreneur from Eastern Europe who was disappointed with his accountant. He was saying that there were a lot of errors in his books and due to that he had paid too much VAT. I am used to hearing a lot of this kind of talking from the business owners who are generally frustrated to pay different kind of taxes and social payments. However, this gentleman was so anxious about the case that it attracted my interest to hear what kind of problems there had been. He showed me the cash sales reports and we compared the totals with the revenues in the Income Statement. Quite soon it was figured out that there had been confusion with the monthly sales and the accumulated sales, which mean the year-to-date sales from the beginning of the year to the end of the current month. Thus after a few months the sales in the books were already more than doubled from the actual. Consequently, too much VAT had been reported.

Then we discussed how this is possible. The accountant had a long experience, some authorization letters below the name and worked for a proper accounting company. It was obvious that the problem was a communication problem, not from the lack of professional skills. As seen in this case, the communication between the entrepreneur and the accountant needs to be very exact and detailed OR the process needs to be formed so that misunderstandings can be avoided. In this particular case, the foreign language and background played a certain role since the accounting company was not accustomed to the customers with an international background.

Based on this story I was once again ensured that we are on a right track with Digibalance’s AutoAccount service. The whole service supply is built in English and all the possible phases are automated or planned to avoid human errors.

The role of the accountants is more like controlling the books not entering data from unclear papers. The key financials can even be sent directly to the customer’s phone.

The outcome of this conversation with the entrepreneur was that we have one more satisfied AutoAccount customer!

The author is Mikko Ilves, the Chairman of the Board at Digibalance Limited

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e-Resident business Estonia

Starting your e-Resident business in Estonia | bank relations are important

Estonia is doing a good job marketing its e-Residency and possibilities to register an e-Resident business in that EU country. Despite the latest security problems with the ID cards, e-Residency has been a success with over 20 000 applications. There has been discussion of what you can actually achieve by being an e-Resident of Estonia. One benefit is a smooth process of setting up a company in EU. However, there are problems involved.

There are some important aspects which should be considered when a foreigner is planning to go on with the company registration. Applying for a personal e-Residency is convenient and easy but it’s only e-Residency, not more. As it is stated quite clearly on their webpage, e-Residency is not a citizenship or a tax residency. However, e-Residency makes it possible to start founding the company in Estonia which takes at first only a few minutes. The first problem is the need for a local legal address and the second one is opening a bank account. The address can be quite easily obtained via some local service provider but the bank account is trickier.

The company needs to have a bank account and the traditional banks have very strict regulations of who can open an account and for what reasons. For example, the legislation in order to prevent money laundering puts the banks in a difficult position everywhere. That’s why it is impossible to open a bank account in Estonia without an actual  visit to the bank and without a reliable business plan. Even if you have a meeting at the bank, it does not necessarily mean that your new company will get the bank account opened . Your company needs to have understandable and reliable local relations in Estonia. If the main reason for founding a company in Estonia is to minimise corporation tax it is quite sure that you will not succeed with the bank. There is a good side of this bank control, though.

There are dozens of good and bad reasons why some people want to register their company in Estonia. If it is due to taxation, it can very easily be a bad reason. First of all you have to understand the distinction of your personal taxation and corporate taxation. Your first point of personal taxation is the country where your personal tax residence is. Normally that is the country where you live. The place of personal taxation is usually quite well understood. There is more misunderstanding with the corporation tax system, which is very appealing in Estonia. The current flat rate of 20% (decreasing 2018) is payable only when the profits are distributed out of the company.

The real tax risk concerns the country who can tax your company. If the business is physically in Estonia (shops etc.) and the management lives in Estonia there are not really any uncertainties. No other country has a right to tax the company.  However, the real situations with e-Residents’ companies are much more complex. The business is often international online business and the company owners/management live away from Estonia. The highly possible outcome is that the company is initially taxed normally in Estonia but the tax authorities of another country raise an interest in the income of the company. In theory, that would not normally cause double taxation since Estonia has tax treaties with several countries, which prevents the double taxation. However, it causes a huge administrational mess in practise. What was meant to be a light and smooth process becomes a nightmare of more complicated accounting, double tax returns and on-going correspondence with the tax authorities. As a summary: costs!

Thus, if you are already having troubles with opening a bank account at a traditional bank (SEB, Danske, Swedbank, LHV) you will most likely also face problems with tax authorities. We are fully aware that e-Residence organisation has come up with alternative solutions with the local bank problem but the risks described above remain. At the same time you might be left without some very beneficial bank services.

Digibalance is a true fintech company who still works in co-operation with the banks, not against them. For example our effortless and affordable AutoAccount bookkeeping service utilises the data which is easily available from the traditional European banks. The mostly automated routine bookkeeping sends your crucial financials to be available on your phone using our DigibalanceApp mobile application. Learn more http://www.digibalanceapp.com/

 

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Keep your business in balance with DigibalanceApp | bookkeeping application

Digibalance Limited has now launched the first version of the revolutionary mobile bookkeeping application DigibalanceApp, a tool for micro entrepreneurs to monitor financial performance. Research, development and piloting process of the application has taken over 12 months – Especially younger entrepreneurs are used to taking care of their daily affairs through mobile devices. That is why we want to offer small business owners the chance to handle business matters by mobile device as well. DigibalanceApp works both-ways between Digibalance and the client. The client can send us information and we in turn produce reports and other content for the service. The idea is that when the micro-entrepreneur opens the mobile service, they see directly a view that reveals both the present situation of the business and a financial forecast. We also generate taxation forecasts in the service. Later, other services, in connection with entrepreneurship offered by various cooperation partners, can also be added to the service says the Chairman of the Board Mikko Ilves.

Key features

The key features of the application are:
• The vital business financials and key data always easily available and shown as simple graphs
• A quick access to the income statement; a thorough overview of what’s in the books and how the business is doing. The app opens also the break-down of expenses.
• Forecast of 12 month’s key financials is served as simple graph, it helps also to keep up with the taxes.
• The application will remind the entrepreneur to pay the VAT bills and gives notifications of interesting news and blog updates
DigibalanceApp is now downloadable on Google Play and AppStore. All the features are available to Digibalance clients without additional fee. The application can be used also as a demo version which shows the basic features and gives access to all the blogs and news.
Visit www.digibalanceapp.com and download the app on Google Play or AppStore.

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Running small business in France – 5 steps for accounting

We have made a brief and practical list regarding accounting if you’ve decided to start a business in France.

  1. Select your business form
    • The options are basically to operate as a self-employed or to register a limited company SARL. There are also other less common business forms.
    • Evaluate if you need to be VAT registered. It is not necessary if your annual turnover doesn’t exceed certain limits.
  2. Choose the most suitable income tax regime
    • SARL corporate tax is always based on the actual taxable profit it shows. The corporate tax rates are from 15% to 33,3%.
    • The self employed can opt to be taxed on certain percentage of the turnover of the business (tax status of micro-entrepreneur). The turnover means the gross revenues without any deductions. They also need to pay considerable social security payments based on the turnover.
    • The other option for the self employed is that the taxable income is based on the actual profit of the business.
    • The amount of income tax is assessed on a household’s total taxable income which means in practise that if your family lives permanently in France the tax is based on the total income of the family. The system is quite complex and there are also a lot of possible tax reductions and credits. The tax authorities calculate the accurate tax amount. Altogether the total of income and social taxes can be very high compared to many other European countries.
  3. Open a business bank account
    • You have a liability to open a separate bank account for your business purposes. It is important to keep the private transactions and business transactions apart from each other.
    • When choosing the bank group it is advisable that you make sure the bank can produce you the bank statement in XML format. That’s the standard confirmed by EU and it can be a basis for an effortless and affordable accounting.
  4. Organise the accounting
    • Invoicing software is very important tool if your sales are mainly based on billing the customers. Be sure to choose a modern digital invoicing software which is location independent and cost effective.
    • Basic bookkeeping is an essential part of the accounting and business management. It is smart and advisable that you organise your books to understand what is the real profit of your business, whatever is the taxation regime applied to you.
    • AutoAccount by Digibalance is an effortless and affordable bookkeeping system which is based directly on the transactions in your business bank account.
  5. Archive
    • The accounting of the business is based on the documents to confirm the transactions. It is important to remember to archive the documents. Most of them can nowadays be saved as electronic files on cloud services.
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Free consultation in Nice area

Internations LogoHello! This time we have started a new campaign with InterNations targeted to entrepreneurs in France. If you have started your business in France and want to know more about financial management and running your business in general, we are now offering a free consultation meeting in the Riviera area. The meeting can also be held on Skype.

Even if you haven’t started your business yet and need help in the setting-up your books and other practical details, we are very happy to meet you and give you guidance in entrepreneurship.

Click here to read more and schedule a meeting

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Article about Digibalance in Finnair’s Blue Wings magazine

We are happy to announce that Digibalance Ltd. was featured in this month’s issue of Blue Wings magazine by Finnair, published on 3rd March 2017.  The article gives a brief explanation of our priorities in accounting and why we think utilising automation is useful. The article also mentions our upcoming mobile application. If you don’t have access to a physical copy of the magazine, you can read the article below:

Image of Digibalance article in Finnair Blue WingsDigibalance produces digital bookkeeping services for European micro-entrepreneurs

The Finnish company Digibalance has already developed a completely digital bookkeeping service for European small businesses. Now, this pioneering company will also launch a mobile app for small businesses; a tool for business owners to monitor financial performance that can be carried in your pocket.

Digibalance is a Finnish-owned accounting firm, established in 2008. Its vision is of producing Finnish origin online bookkeeping for small businesses in the entirety of the EU. The company’s primary target group consists of European start-ups, micro-entrepreneurs, and businesses of 1-4 employees in size. “This target group includes many people that employ themselves as entrepreneurs in unfamiliar environments. At the moment, we at Digibalance offer online accounting services in Finland, Estonia, France, the UK, and Italy, but our goal is to duplicate our services in all of the European SEPA countries. We are the best in on-going monthly accounting. For special taxation questions and Financial Statements, we use local expertise”, says the Chairman of the Board Mikko Ilves.

Automation keeps costs down

In practice, what does ‘digitalised bookkeeping services’ mean? “In the AutoAccount service we have replaced the arduous paper phases of accounting with automation. The service is effortless and affordable for the entrepreneur. Thanks to the digitalisation and automation of the process, the client does not pay for anything unnecessary. The service is also ecological and location independent, because all documents are transmitted online. In spite of the digital process, the client also gets assistance in case of need; since contacts with our team are conveniently handled online, for instance through Skype, and the service language is English.” Ilves reveals that online accounting, at its least expensive, costs € 40/month. “In addition, the monthly fee does not depend on the number of transaction documents; hence, a growth in business activity and the number of transactions does not automatically raise the monthly fee. This brings predictability into the everyday life of the entrepreneur.”

Online monitoring in your pocket

Now Digibalance is launching a mobile application – Digibalance mobileApps, a tool for small business owners to monitor financial performance. “Young entrepreneurs are especially used to taking care of their daily affairs through mobile devices. That is why we want to offer European small business owners the chance to handle business matters by mobile device as well.” Ilves says that Digibalance mobileApps works both-ways between Digibalance and the client. “The client can send us additional information and we in turn produce reports for the service. The idea is that when the micro-entrepreneur opens the mobile service, they see a view that reveals both the present situation of the business and a financial forecast. As a new feature, we also generate taxation forecasts in the service. Later, other services, in connection with entrepreneurship offered by various cooperation partners, can also be added to the service. We will launch the mobile service for clients during the spring.”

Text by Mia Heiskanen / Blue Wings.

 

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Free consultation meeting in Finland

Internations LogoHello! We have started a new campaign with InterNations targeted to entrepreneurs in Finland. If you have started your business in Finland and want to know more about financial management and running your business in general, we are now offering a free consultation meeting in our office in Helsinki or Turku. The meeting can also be held in Skype.

Even if you haven’t started your business yet and need help in the setting-up process and other practical details, we are very happy to meet you and give you guidance in entrepreneurship.

Click here to read more and arrange a meeting

 

 

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Starting Micro-entrepreneur Business in Finland – 7 Points to Take into Account

Image of a start-up meeting

We have made a brief and practical list of things you need to think through if you have decided to start a business in Finland.

  1. Select your business form
    • The options are basically to operate as a sole trader called “toiminimi” or to register a limited company called “osakeyhtiö”. There are also other less common business forms.
    • The registration process depends on which business form you selected.
    • Be sure to register in prepayment register (“ennakkoperintärekisteri”) and also in VAT register if you know your business is VAT liable. The employer registration is not recommended if you are not employing other people on a permanent basis.
  2. Organize the accounting
    • Basic bookkeeping is an essential part of the accounting and financial management. You should start co-operation with an accounting agency which utilises digital tools to keep your bookkeeping affordable and effortless.
    • Taxation is based on the books and can be handled by the same accounting agency electronically when you have given the appropriate authorization.
    • Invoicing software is very important tool if your sales are mainly based on billing the customers. Ask your accountant contact for help when choosing the software.
    • If you’re planning to employ other people it makes sense to choose an accounting company who can also offer payroll services.
  3. Open a business bank account
    • You have an accounting liability concerning your business. As a part of that it is important to keep the private transactions and business transactions apart from each other.
    • Choose the bank group and appropriate bank services based on your accountant’s advice.
  4. Make the insurance agreements of at least the obligatory pension insurance (YEL)
    • Your accountant might be able to recommend you an appropriate insurance company.
    • If you will be employing you need also other obligatory insurances
    • As a part of risk management it might be wise to consider other voluntary insurances.
  5. Have a look if you’re entitled to the start-up grant
    • More information at the TE Office
    • Note! If you apply for the start-up grant you cannot start your business before the application is handled.
  6. Be sure of other possible permits
    • Some entrepreneurs see Finland as a bureaucratic country, some don’t. It depends on the line of business you are in. Find more information on the necessary permits especially if you are, for example, in the restaurant business.
  7. Start
    • Remember that the most important thing is to know what you sell and to find customers! You also need to keep your archives in order and respect the deadlines of invoices. There is support available for business administration but you have to be careful and buy only affordable services.
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