Where Do You Work
Simple Question ... Right?
Is the recent Italian fine of Netflix a stalking horse for countries to charge businesses for remote workers operating in their country?
Businesses pay people based on where they live, not where they work. For most of us - what’s the difference? It is starting to turn out … a lot! I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but there’s more - and a lot of it is to do with tax.
It’s getting ‘interesting’ as remote and nomadic work takes hold, because it will also start to affect visas, which as people move around the U.S.A. we don’t think about. But what happens if your remote/nomadic work has you living in a foreign country?
Does a nomadic worker in Kenya need a visa to work for a German company?
The answer of course is yes (ish). This is where the whole concept of expats1. status started, but that is for companies with a ‘presence’2 in that other country. What if there is no presence and you just happen to have chosen to live in (say) Kenya as part of your ‘nomadic work experience’?
When companies first started getting people ‘off their books’ through the process of outsourcing and offshoring the whole principle of being paid based on where you live wasn’t questioned. In California there is a minimum wage of $15 per hour. If I move a factory to the Philippines, the minimum wage I pay is reduced to (give or take) $10 per day. That right there starts to explain why offshoring caught on.
Today it’s a different yet connected story.
Confused? You Will Be!
Traditional thinking suggests that in order to do work in a country, you either need to be a citizen of that country where you are working or have a work visa that allows you to do so. BUT;
the local government doesn’t know you are working there (no work visa application).
you are not ‘taking the job of a local worker’.
you are not being paid locally for what you do.
So on what grounds would they tax you?
For every other country in the world, it gets complicated. Very quickly.
But first, why does it matter?
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