American in Europe?
November 16, 2019 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I freelance in software development on a very niche platform. For a variety of reasons the product is more popular in Europe for freelancing. Most engagements are short (3 mos). Simple question, is there an easy route for me to take these contracts as a US citizen?

American contracts are obviously easy, is there a way I can setup an international LLC or something to just get these short term gigs? This is highly specialized 50 people in the world have experience with but got short engagements visas are too time consuming. Working as an American I’ve worked with offshore teams all the time so I can’t imagine it I’d hard to setup in reverse. Didn’t know if this is worth seeing a lawyer about or the long answer is “hard and expensive.”
posted by geoff. to Law & Government (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry for typos on my phone!
posted by geoff. at 2:11 PM on November 16, 2019

You're living in the US and plan to stay here? If so, this is totally doable and not hard. You do not need a foreign LLC, as the work will be performed in the US. Your best option (if you haven't already) is to register a sole proprietor business in the US and have the European country hire you as a consultant. You will not need a work visa. Have them pay directly into your American bank account. Be careful to have them pay you gross -- i.e. that they do not deduct taxes on your behalf. You, as the business owner, would do this on your own and pay US federal taxes and taxes for the state you reside in, just as if you were employed as a contractor for an American company. As a self-employed person in the US not living abroad, you will not be responsible for paying taxes in the country your employer is located in.

Consult an accountant if you need guidance setting the business up. It is fairly easy and inexpensive to do, though you may want help with your quarterly taxes. TurboTax is also an option, as sole prop taxes are considerably less complex than an s or c corporation.

For retirement savings you set up an SEP (self-employed pension) account, which works much like an IRA in that you can make tax free deposits, up to a certain percentage of your income, and invest the money.
posted by ananci at 3:56 PM on November 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

Americans can stay in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within an 180 day period.

I assume you are aware of this and know that you can't take back-to-back contracts.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:14 AM on November 17, 2019

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