04 July 2009

Expats Working in Argentina: How To Invoice Local Companies

The following question arrived to me today by way of the Immigrant Mutual Aid Society, which is an organization here in Buenos Aires dedicated to helping expatriates and immigrants with a variety of issues. I'll post the question and then respond to the issue at hand.

I've been living here in Buenos Aires for the last year and a half. I do free lance work film and tv, mostly advertising and documentaries for abroad. I have been working under the table this whole time, usually borrowing "facturas" from friends ect, or I have the money deposited into my account in the US, but now that I've started to generate a more significant income I am considering getting facturas of my own. Do you know how I would go about doing that? I've been on tourist visas this whole time and it hasn't seemed to be a problem yet, so I'm not too worried about a residency or healthcare or anything, my primary concern is about getting paid legally. What would you suggest?

Options For Expats Without Visas
There is no way to issue invoices (facturas) legally as an expat without a visa. As a tourist, you are not authorized to work in the country, so you cannot apply for the monotributo system and you can't enroll as a self employed worker either. The only way you can work and issue facturas locally is to form a company (SRL or SA) with an Argentine partner and then have your company issue the invoices. You will then be able to receive profits from the company in the form of dividends, but due to your expatriate status, you won't be able to work for the company.

My recommendation would be to get residency and start operating as a sole proprietor, either under the monotributo system if you qualify, or under the general system if you don't qualify for monotributo. If you can't get a visa or refuse to get one, you can form a company and start issuing invoices from your company. In this second case, you'll still be an illegal resident of Argentina and still breaking the law by doing work for your company while you're here. Nevertheless, at least you won't be committing tax fraud.

Given that obtaining a visa is not terribly difficult, the first and best option is to fix your migratory situation. While you may not have had difficulty until now, at any point migrations could deny you re-entry to the country based on your past history of overstaying your visa. Not to mention the fact that if your business is doing well, you are putting everything in jeopardy by operating illegally.

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