12 August, 2010

I started a business in Sweden!

Well, I dropped the paperwork off at Skatteverket (the tax office) anyway. They say it'll take a week or two until I am officially registered in Sweden.  Sounds a bit spammy, doesn't it? Like, "I started a business and you can, too!"

There are so many ways that Sweden differs legally and socially/culturally from the U.S. I guess it's part of the benefit of having this blog...to work through and vent some of the culture shock we have experienced.
A big difference that has not affected me in the least until last week was how Sweden allows one to get paid for doing contract work. In the U.S., you do the work, the business/individual cuts you a check for your agreed amount, you put it in your own bank account and you are responsible at the end of the tax year for social welfare deductions and paying local/federal taxes. Turbotax makes this easy if you do simple contract work on the side (like Stu did when he taught yoga classes at several DC yoga studios,) but can likely get much more complicated if it's your only form of income.

I was offered a job last week doing something interesting, meaningful (to my CV) and best of all, lucrative...writing scholarly texts on a range of artists represented in the collection at a small museum here in Stockholm. I was really excited at what they were offering for this task (granted any amount in kronor sounds astounding.) It's simple contract work: a few texts per week/month and a very low annual income from them, just pocket change. But in Sweden, even the smallest amount shouldn't escape the tax man's clutches, and one can't just have checks made out to them (Sweden *doesn't do* checks.) One has to start their own business to get a payment.

So that's what I did. Thankfully, they make it pretty easy. Weeeelllll, the paperwork so far was easy. Ask me again at tax time. I could have paid a little to register my business with a trademark-able name, but I decided to stick with my own name. It's free that way. The customer service rep at Skatteverket told me to plan for about 60% of my pay to go to taxes and social welfare, which was rather disheartening. But I will have an employee! Because these texts need to be submitted in English AND Swedish, and my Swedish language skills have not progressed beyond the level of a 5-year-old native, and Google Translate would make me sound like I suffered head trauma, I'll pay one of my friends to do it for me. I wish I could put Stu on the payroll...I'd love to be his boss.

But hmmmm, should I put entrepreneur on my CV? ;)


  1. Way to go! Nice that you are now employed and a business! Too bad about the harsh realities of what all those wonderful social programs cost--60%! Yikes!

  2. Tax time will be very easy to report. Normally it takes 30 minutes and you do it on the web. They send you all paperwork automatically on skv.se. Just log in with your bank-ID. Yes, I pay 60% too, but I rather do that than get involved with the italian system. It would cost me alot more...in time and money.

  3. Wow, congrats! And yes, you should put entrepreneur on your CV for sure ;)