In the U.S., if you want to work for a company as an independent contractor, all you have to do is type up an invoice on some made-up letterhead, pay quarterly taxes, maybe get an accountant. I did this while I was in graduate school as a marketing communications consultant.
As you may know from reading my blog, I am working as an adjunct professor for an graduate business school in Sao Paulo (see I Got A Job!). One night a week. Little did I know when I agreed to do this, in order to get paid I had to open a business.
Although now I’ve been told I didn’t need to, I hired someone for a small fee to open a micro-business for me. This process took weeks of back and forth. Finally, after determining that the block where I lived was zoned for business, identifying the three (not that accurate) descriptions of my business from primary to tertiary, and then getting my RNE number (see Sou Permanente!), my business was open.
Happily, I contacted the school and let them know. I inquired about what was needed to be on the invoice I would be sending them and the accountant responded. I sent an invoice on a world document with my name and address on it.
On Day 159 of my Brazilian challenge, I sent the school an email to confirm that they received the invoice. The accountant came back with some missing information that I did not understand. I asked her to send me an example of another professor’s invoice. Apparently, this is the required format of what I need to send…
Oh holy hell! I only work one night a week! And only for 12 weeks.
So on top of opening a business (FYI – your information goes on some marketing list – I’ve been receiving invoices for services with “optional fees” that look like real bills), my husband and I got into the Sao Paulo municipal system to try and figure out how to do this. But alas, we were missing information. So I went back to the guy who opened my business to figure out how to get the information I need. (By the way, between the sleep-in babá and this guy, oh and the taxes I’ll have to pay, I’ve pretty much burned through any money I made on this gig.) He’s going to register me with the Prefeitura and give me the info I need to send invoices.
It’s not a total loss. I’ve been wanting to open a business here anyway to see if I could do some consulting. So this kicked me into gear. But just know, Brazilian bureaucracy flows through every channel.