[Season 2] Ep 4: What to Do When Clients Don’t Pay

“I’ll pay you next month,” the client says. And then next month becomes next month and before you know it, a year has passed. Perhaps you eventually write it off as a loss and tell yourself it’s a lesson learned. But you don’t always have to do that.

In today’s episode, we talk to Justin Wong a super solopreneur who founded Write Handed Communications and Kinidia, a streaming platform featuring Malaysian movies. He shares his experiences of taking legal action against clients who delayed payment and refused to pay. Hopefully things never go this far with your client, but it helps to know that even if it does, you have options!  

Show Notes

Read more about the Small Claim Court and how to file a case at this PDF link.

Let us know what you think of this episode in the comments section! If you have any questions, ask away in this form.

Transcript

[Prologue]

Jean 00:01

I think it’s just good to know that there are things we can actually do.

Justin 00:04

At the end of the day, yes, you have rights. Someone doesn’t pay you, even if it’s like half not your fault, money owed is money owed, you know. So I waited until the money was in my bank. So it’s not just a word from finance, not just a acknowledgement or a receipt or anything like that. No, no, I got to see that number. Next station.

Sarah  00:33

Hi, there. It’s Sarah.

Jean  00:34

And Jeannette.

Sarah  00:35

And this is Solo Sync, a podcast for the curious solopreneur where we discover simple solutions to keep enjoying what we do together.

[Start]

Jean  00:43

So one thing that super annoying for me about freelancing is when clients don’t pay or they pay late. Over the years, I figured out some ways to deal with that, for example, taking an upfront payment, collecting a deposit and so on. When clients pay late, I’ve learned to be thick-skinned enough to keep hounding them for payment. And it’s a really painful process. And I try as far as I can to avoid it.

Sarah  01:06

I completely agree with you. To be honest, it sometimes isn’t something that I follow up with either because it gets tiring to keep asking, but what else can you do when nothing else works.

Jean  01:18

So what I’ve heard is that if the amount you’re owed is less than 5000 ringgit, you can go to the small claims court. The thing is, I’ve never done that, mostly because I’ve been quite lucky with clients so far, but partly also because I’m lazy. And I don’t even know where to begin to be honest

Sarah  01:38

I hear you.

Jean  01:39

But a few months ago, a friend Justin sent me a message about going to small claims court. And he really went through with it. So today he is going to be talking to us about his experience. Just a quick intro. Justin Wong is the founder of Write Handed Communications, a digital marketing and content creation company. He’s also the creator and producer of Kinidia, which I’m sure he’ll tell us more about during our chat today. Okay, hi Justin! Nice to have you with us here today. We’ve already told everyone that you’re going to be talking to us about your small claims court adventure.

Justin  02:12

Hi, good to be here.

Jean  02:13

Tell us about how that happened.

Justin  02:15

Okay, I guess everyone’s nightmare is when someone owes you money, and that person decides not to pay. So that’s why the justice system has this thing called a small claims court. Now this court is for pretty much almost any situation where someone owes you money. It doesn’t have to be a freelancer-client relationship, doesn’t have to be agency and client. It can be returning a defective product or landlord and tenant kind of relationships or like in pretty much almost any case that someone owes you money. And they handle cases up to 5000 ringgit of claims. And the beauty of it is that you don’t need a lawyer. Both you and the defendant.

Sarah 02:56

That’s super useful to know, lawyers cost a lot.

Jean  02:58

Because lawyers are the biggest hassle of like going to court, right?

Justin  03:02

It depends. Because in some situations, you will want to let your lawyer handle everything, you know, my house or whatever it is, just handle the paperwork for me, you know. But so in this case, you get to do all this without the help of a lawyer, and that will save you mone. You need to do the application procedure on your own. So here is how you do it. You ready for this?

Sarah 03:26

Go for it.

Justin  03:27

Okay, step one, you go to a magistrate court, you go to any magistrate court. You can go to either the KL one if your defendent is in KL, or you can go to the Shah Alam one, if your defendant is in Selangor. It doesn’t matter where you are based, it matters where your defendant is based. So in my case, it was it was for PJ, so that was fine. So I just had to go to the Shah Alam one. You cannot go to the PJ court because for some reason they don’t do this. So you have to go to the Shah Alam one. You go there, and then you pick up the form. And that form is really, really simple. You just need to fill out who you are, and who you’re claiming money from. So if it’s a company, it’s going to be name of company, registration number, address, phone number, plus the amount that you’re trying to get. That’s it. It’s a very simple form. And then, the procedure also asks for supporting documents. You put in things like a quotation, invoice. Or screencaps of the conversations that you had, whether it’s email or WhatsApp. It’s important that if you did some work for a client, it will be super helpful if you can get like black and white even back when the project was starting. Right. So at that moment, if you can get a in black and white that they say, “Oh, please start work”. That’s important. Because otherwise, they might have that wiggle room of saying that, “Oh, we didn’t ask you to start work. You just did it for us.”

Sarah  04:58

Yeah, good point.

Justin  04:59

I mean, that’s a very weak case. But you know, even the big agencies, you know, practice that line. Wait for the client to say, “Please start work.” So oh, yeah, sorry, I’ve glossed over my part. So in my case, why I did it right, in my particular case. So I did work for a client a couple of years ago. It’s really nothing. It was just 1000 bucks. But, you know, they delay me for so long. Weeks, and months and months, became a year. It came to a time when I’m like, “Okay, it’s not about the 1000 bucks. It’s more about the principle of it. I didn’t want them or anyone to disrespect my profession, you know?”

Sarah  05:37

Yeah. And just curious, has this happened before? Or was this the first time you decided to really take action?

Justin  05:44

That was the first time

Sarah  05:45

So this has happened before?

Justin  05:47

All my other clients have paid me eventually. All of them.

Sarah  05:51

So this was the first client that didn’t pay you?

Justin  05:54

Yes.

Sarah  05:55

Wow, don’t mess with Justin.

Justin  05:57

Don’t mess with me, man. At that point, I’m like, “Okay, this is a I saw it as a disrespect to freelancers and agencies and small agencies.” So I didn’t want them to be able to just think that they can just walk away. Yeah. So it’s not so much for the money. Just, you know, I didn’t want want that to happen to others. So if that can be a deterrent then I’ve done my job.

Jean  06:23

So you’re the superhero for all freelancers.

Justin  06:28

I am the night. I am justice. Yeah.

Sarah  06:32

So what happens next?

Justin  06:34

Okay, so I went into court, got my form, and I got my supporting documents as well. So on top of my supporting documents, of my quotation, my invoice, snapshots, I also wrote a cover letter, because I thought that will help the case. Right, and to clarify on what’s happening. So I just wrote like, there’s like no format, because I don’t think anyone asked for it. I just I just wrote it. And I so I, there’s no format, I just put in a block of text that says, I did so and so work for so and so company for this much. But at this date, but I haven’t been paid yet. And this is a list of attached documents. So this is for clarity purposes, I guess. So I did that. And so what you can do is prepare the supporting documents first and bring it to the court. And then when you get the form at the court, you fill in the form on the spot, and then you can submit on the spot.

Sarah  07:24

Okay, so you definitely have to do it in person. There’s no electronic way to do it.

Justin  07:28

No, not so far. No.

Sarah  07:30

Right. So you send me a form on the spot. And then how long do you have to wait for an answer? Or do you queue up on the spot?

Justin  07:37

Yeah, I queued up on the spot. Oh, wait a minute. Yeah, I got another form. I had to go home because when I looked it up, apparently they needed like four copies, like four sets of everything, four sets of the form and supporting documents. I went there twice. But the thing is, so that’s where the discrepancy lies because when I went there again, they only took one of my copies. So so I’m like, “What? I printed all this for nothing.” Anyways, that’s no problem. So yeah, I submitted one, then it goes into the system. And then I think I waited about a week. It’s pretty fast. So this is the important distinction here, right? When you submit that form and supporting documents, they will key it into their system. But that is not the point where they make a judgement. They’re just putting you in a system. That’s all at that point. And they will set a court date. I think, for me, it was a month plus from the time that I got the confirmation. You get a confirmation email. Okay, now, this is the fun part. This is the funnest part of the whole process. Okay, once you get a confirmation that you’ve received official documents through email, you will get a summons. Now you have to find a way to serve that summons to your client. There are two ways. Number one, you go to your client in person, hand over the summons to them, and then get them to sign a thing that says, okay, they received it. If your client and you are not good talking terms, they’re not going to sign right.

Sarah  09:08

I’m just picturing an episode of Suits right now. Where you coolly take that piece of paper out of your coat.

Justin  09:14

Yeah. And then the other guy will like throw it back in your face or something like that. Yeah. I think for them, it’s like subpoena. It’s just as good as handing it to them. It’s good enough, but, but for us, we need a signature.

Sarah  09:24

Okay. And the second one?

Justin  09:26

That’s why I think we should just opt for the second thing, which is registered post. You send it to them by mail, and then when they receive the mail, they don’t know what’s inside the envelope. So they’ll just open it and realise later. Yeah, so the way it works is that now because this is not your normal Poslaju, this is called AR. There’s a yellow card involved. What you do is you just go to any post office and then say you want AR, you want registered post and then when they deliver it to your client for you, the deliverer will require a signature, the yellow card, and then the yellow card will be sent back to you. And then that yellow card will be proof to the court that the summons is served.

Sarah  10:10

Oh, wow. Okay.

Justin  10:12

So that is key here. Because if you cannot serve the summons, then you have no case. You can’t sue them at all, because they’re not even aware of it, you know. So that’s just fair to them, I guess.

Jean  10:24

How long do you have to serve them the summons?

Justin  10:27

To do that? Well, the court date was a month plus away from the time they received the confirmation. So I have that amount of time.

Jean 10:37

Did you have to write the summons yourself? Or like it’s something you get from the court?

Justin  10:39

No, no, no, no, you just send them what they emailed you? Just print out what they emailed you. And then that has like a chop and everything already. So that’s, that will act as a summons. So what it is to say is, you know, please come to Court. Unfortunately, in my case, that part did not go through for me, because the company was going through some troubles. It became a problem when their company office was closed. No one was in the office, because why? The company’s in trouble. So therefore, there’s nobody in the office to receive the summons. So therefore, the summons was not served.

Sarah  11:17

Would you know what would take place next, if the summons was successfully served.

Justin  11:23

If it were served, basically, they will be summoned to court. And then you just need both parties need to show up on the court appointed date. Then when your number gets called. Yeah, then you get to speak with judge.

Sarah  11:37

I have I’m just curious. Earlier, we talked about how, just the attitude behind you coming to this point to make this decision. You knew that company was going through some financial difficulty. And you decided to go ahead with it anyway. Because you’re right, they need to settle their own problems, and you need to get paid for the work that you’ve done. But were there any other thoughts that went through your mind? Like, were you concerned about burning bridges? What kind of repercussions did you consider that this action of yours would take? I’m just guessing you probably didn’t have a really tight personal relationship with them to begin with right. It was just like a business transaction.

Justin  12:15

Yes. I didn’t know them prior to that.

Sarah  12:18

Jeannette and I, we’ve had experiences with clients that don’t pay. And I think it gets really sticky when you already have a personal relationship with them.

Justin  12:28

Yeah, it might be.

Sarah  12:30

And, and sometimes I wonder, you know, for freelancers, it’s either you have a personal relationship with your client and that makes it difficult for you to even consider bringing things like this to court. Or you’re just I would imagine, I would be really concerned maybe that the world is so small. And by doing this, people will talk, you know, I would think, oh, is one client going to tell another, “Oh, watch out for this person.” You know, that kind of thing? Like, what would you say to thoughts like that?

Justin  12:59

Well, in my case, I’d be happy for that conversation to take place. You know, if my client was, was telling other people, hey, that this guy had legal action against me Oh, did you pay him? No? There you go. So I’m, yes, happy for that conversation to happen.

Jean 13:16

They’re helping you do some filtering as well, right? Because clients who are likely to default will be like, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t hire him.”

Justin  13:24

Well, there you go.

Sarah  13:25

Alright, I think we have a lot to learn. Well, I have a lot to learn from your confidence.

Justin  13:29

Well, yeah, again, I wasn’t close to them at all. It just came to a point where, you know, I didn’t want them to do the same thing to others. So I just want to use that as a deterrent.

Jean  13:40

What was it about the way they delayed your payment that made you think that “Oh, it’s the principle of it, and I need to take them to small claims court.”

Justin 13:48

It was the fact that they did not pay me even after two years. And the excuses that they gave me was, the company is having some troubles, which is not my responsibility. And yeah, so I just took this opportunity to do it. And then if anything, learned how to do it so that I can do it properly the next time around. But you know, even though it didn’t work out for me, for you, as long as you can get your the summons in the hands of your client, then you’ll be able to do that. The small claims court way of doing things. Now, I happen to have experienced yet another case where a different client of mine decided not to pay me for work that I’ve done. So this was different. This one was a different scope of work. This was a higher amount. And because of that I cannot use the small claims court because the small claims court can only number one, handle claims of up to 5000 ringgit or below and number two the small claims court can only help you as an individual, but for me, I did the job for my client as a company. Well, let me just talk about how that went down. First, let me preface this by saying that okay, I cannot go into the details. And number two, I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Please call a lawyer.

Jean  14:01

Yeah, all we want to know is that it’s possible to win these cases.

Justin  15:30

Yes, it is possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel. So what happened to me, I did some work with this particular client, and it went all the way to the end, I submitted the final delivery based on what they asked for, and then after that they straight up didn’t want to pay me. It’s not a matter of, “Oh, I’ll pay soon, soon, soon” and soon became two years, three years, five years. No, no, no, no, that is not the case. These guys straight up said, “We don’t want to pay you.”

Jean  16:06

Oh, my God. That’s crazy.

Justin  16:08

Yeah, I can’t get into the details. But it is definitely not my fault. I know, it’s my biased opinion. But believe me. It’s not my fault. So because I know, objectively, that it’s not my fault that I decided to take the leap and call my lawyers to help. This is the first phase. This is probably not the term that lawyers are using – phases. But okay, it starts off with a letter of demand. So my lawyers helped me write a letter of demand to send to my client on my behalf to say that, “Hey, you owe my client this much money, please pay.” It’s just a letter and the client can respond in one of two ways. Number one, this is just a piece of paper, these people can’t make me do anything. Or number two, wow these guys mean business. Well, in my case, it was number one. So we moved on to phase two. What my lawyers did was to file a claim to the magistrate court, on this case, on my behalf, and in order to generate a summons to my client. Now, how these summons are served? As lawyers, they are able to do it and do it properly. As opposed to me doing it on my own in the first case. But what happened to me is that they got their own lawyers involved. And then that’s when they decided to pay.

Jean  17:50

Their lawyers must have told them to.

Justin  17:54

I would like to imagine that. I go to sleep at night and picture that scenario happening with their lawyers at the time saying that you got to pay this guy. Yes.

Jean  18:08

Were you intimidated at all when they got their lawyers involved?

Justin  18:12

No, because I found out about their lawyers involvement at the same time when I found out that they decided to pay.

Jean  18:18

I see.

Justin  18:20

Yeah, so in my head was like as per what you said, like, oh, it must be their advice to pay me then. So what happens after that is they said, Okay, we’ll pay you. We’re going to rush our finance department to process this as fast as possible. Please, please retract the case. Yeah. So that was important for them – for us to retract the case from the court. So I waited until the money is in my bank. So it’s not just a word from finance, not just an acknowledgement or a receipt or anything like that. Nope, nope, I got to see that number, on my bank. It’s in my hands, then then. Then only I’ll inform my client and lawyer and say, “Hey, I got paid. Thanks.” Yeah.

Jean  19:14

That’s amazing, man.

Justin  19:16

Yeah. So to add on to all that. Of course, I gotta pay my lawyer’s legal fees, and not just the legal fees, but also the court filing fees and things like that. So you have to ensure that the amount that you’re suing for is substantial enough.

Jean  19:35

I think it’s just good to know that there are things we can actually do.

Justi  19:39

At the end of the day, yes, you you have rights. Someone doesn’t pay you, even if it’s like half not your fault, which is but you know, money owed is money owed. You know the metaphor I like to use, the analogy I like to use is that you know, if you pay a contractor to build a shitty house but the shitty house is as per instructions. You know, you still you still gotta pay the contractor.

Jean  20:10

Yeah, totally man. Well, I’m glad that’s over for you. You’ve moved on to better things. I understand that you’re doing some exciting things now.

Justin  20:20

Yes, yes. So somewhere in the middle of last year, I had a little time on my hands and I stumbled upon an opportunity and I jumped on it. Long story short, I’m trying to give an opportunity for a Malaysian-made films to be exhibited online because there isn’t another avenue otherwise. Then I decided to jump in that I built it. I spent like weeks in my own cave coding the thing.

Jean  20:46

Wow.

Justin  20:47

And there it is. Kinidia. So it is a movie streaming platform featuring local films. And yes, if you want to check out some local films, or some recent films, some Afdlin Shauki films, please check out Kinidia.com.

Jean  21:01

Wow, amazing. You’re definitely one of those super solopreneurs that I really look up to.

Justin  21:08

That’s, that’s high praise coming from you, Jeannette.

Jean  21:11

Thank you so much for being with us here today and sharing your experience. I hope we have you on again sometime.

Justin  21:17

I’d be happy to come back. Yes, this is so much fun.

Jean  21:20

Thank you for listening today. Show notes for this episode will be on our website, http://www.solosync.xyz. If you’d like to get in touch with us for any reason – ask some questions, if you want to suggest some topic, feel free to drop us a line at hello@solosync.xyz.

Sarah  21:42

You can also follow us on Instagram for more updates too! Our handle is @solosyncpodcast.

Featured photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

[Season 2] Ep 3: Paying Taxes as A Freelancer in Malaysia

“I’m looking forward to filing my taxes!” said no new freelancer ever. It’s more like a flurry of thoughts: Which form do I fill in? Was I supposed to keep track of my invoices? How? Do I get to claim tax on certain items? How do I do a final calculation and… what if I fill in the wrong details without knowing! Aaaaagh! 

Thankfully, we have accountants to the rescue. In this episode, we cover the basics about filing and paying taxes as a freelancer / solopreneur in Malaysia. Also featured is Sean Lai, a fellow freelancer who provides accounting consultation and services under his company, Above Ace Accounting. Sean helps us understand the tax filing process a better and addresses a handful of concerns that newbie tax paying freelancers may have. 

Show Notes

To get further details on how to file taxes as a freelancer, this article is pretty helpful.

A friendly reminder: The due date to file your taxes for the year 2020 for resident individuals who do not carry on business (BE Form), is 30 April 2021 for manual filing in Malaysia and 15 May 2021 via e-Filing in Malaysia. The deadline for resident individuals who carry on business such as full-time freelancers (B Form) is on 30 June for manual filing and 15 July for e-Filing. You can access the e-Filing portal here.

Here’s a list of tax exempted items for residents individuals in Malaysia for the Year 2020.

We also love this A to Z glossary of tax terminologies. Refer to it before your next social gathering in case you end up stuck with someone who enjoys talking about taxes!

Let us know what you think of this episode in the comments section! If you have any questions, ask away in this form.

Transcript

[Prologue]

Jean  00:01

I think when I started out, I did not know how to do my invoice numbers properly as well and I had to get an accountant’s advice for that

Sean  00:08

As long as the expenses is justifiable, the cost is tax deductible. But in our situation as a freelancer some of those expenses related to personal usage, we can only do an estimation of the cost allocation based on percentage.

Jean  00:31

Hi, everyone, its Jeannette and Sarah. And this is Solo Sync, a podcast for the curious solopreneur where we discover simple solutions to keep enjoying what we do together. 

[Start]

Sarah   00:41

One of the scariest things about managing my own finances as a freelancer is paying taxes. I’m not a numbers person at all. So even filing my tax returns as a full time employee felt a bit daunting. In Malaysia, our government forms are mostly in the Malay language, which some people like myself may not be very fluent in. Even in English, many terms are foreign to me.

Jean  01:03

And when you start to own your own business, the forms that you need to fill up are different. There are so many more forms like you know, for an individual, if you’re filing your taxes, you fill out one form or something like that. But if you’re running a business, if you’re employing people, you have things like your employees EPF, Socso, their tax deductions and all that to take care of. And that’s why I always recommend hiring a tax accountant to work with or even an accountant to work on your day to day business for you, but they’re especially important during tax season when your taxes are due.

Sarah   01:36

So we’re gonna cover the basics about paying taxes in this episode with advice from Sean, a freelancer accountant whom we both know. He’s also a director and shareholder in a Singaporean accounting firm that operates in Malaysia.

Jean  01:48

He’s also a business investor, he invests in potential businesses and he grows the companies he invests in by providing accounting and financial advice to the owners.

Sarah   01:59

So before we get into which tax form to fill out as a freelancer or sole proprietor, my first question would be, what accounting habits should freelances keep throughout the year in general?

Jean  02:11

Keep your receipts, all of them. Like Sean says,

Sean  02:15

I will say that almost all the receipts seems to be related. Because when we work as a freelancer its very hard to differentiate between what we use for work and for personal. So we could be 24 hours linked to our work and working from early morning up to midnight time. So all these are actually expenses that I might incur. So over here, the receipts are not necessarily just for our expenses, it could be for our assets as well.

Jean  02:40

So assets would be things like your office furniture, your computers, maybe even your car. So these are things that you have receipts for, and they may look like expenses, but it actually goes into your balance sheet as assets. So they’re actually what gives your company value as well, because they’re things that you can sell in exchange for money. Whereas expenses would be things like your food, or like maybe you need to buy stationery. Actually stationery is iffy, I think they could be considered assets as well. But you know, other expenses like driving, you need to drive somewhere for a meeting. And the petrol is an expense. That’s how I think of the difference between assets and expenses. 

Sarah   03:22

Basically, expenses are things that you can’t sell after you’ve used it. 

Jean  03:27

Yeah! I guess so. Yeah.

Sarah   03:29

Going back to keeping receipts right… I find that the ink on receipts fade over time and hardcopy documents really take up too much space. So I asked if I could just keep soft copies. And the answer was no.

Sean  03:42

It would be best to keep the soft copy and hardcopy. Okay, the reason is that the soft copy is everything for us to use when the government wants to have a look on that, we need to provide in the hardcopy. So all those invoices to and from we are providing to our clients and even from our suppliers we keep everything.

Sarah   04:00

Right. The other question I had was about numbering your invoices and quotations. I started out on the wrong foot. When I first started freelancing, I was giving different labels for each different service I provided. See, I’m a photographer, I’m a writer and a social media manager. And I labeled each of these different types of invoices differently. I kept the numbers consistent, of course for each category, but it still worried me for a while because I later learned that the best practice is to keep it all consistent. Thankfully it works for our tax system too.

Sean  04:32

For example, you put it as “Sarah”, the company, you put “SA” so that’s maybe it’s a photocopy you can put a “P” so that month and date follows slash with the numbers of this sequence. The next one is maybe another management things you still can put SA-M, continue with that date, and slash, continue with the numbers. Everything is okay. This is for our personal to use as long as a sequence number is followed.

Jean  04:55

Glad that’s cleared up. I think when I started out I did not know how to do my invoice numbers properly as well. And I had to get like an accountants advice for that. The other thing that new freelancers who aren’t from a finance background might find confusing is the difference between bookkeeping and accounting. But you know, you always hear people use the terms interchangeably. But actually, bookkeeping is simply keeping track of all the transactions happening our business. So it’s something that you can do yourself. And it is part of the process of accounting, but accounting itself is a much broader thing. You know, it involves things like auditing, taxation, it involves looking at the business numbers and interpreting it and communicating it in a way that non finance people will be able to understand as well. 

Sarah   05:39

Right, right. So bookkeeping is like a fancy term for keeping records.

Jean  05:43

Yeah. 

Sarah   05:44

Alright, let’s talk about tax exemptions. I wonder what kind of items we can get tax exemptions for and if there were any special ones for freelancers? Well, there aren’t. But as a person earning an income, the standard tax exemptions apply.

Jean  06:00

So things like petrol phone bills, internet, rent, and even groceries, anything you spend on for the business, you can get like tax deductions for it. And here’s the justification.

Sean  06:11

As long as the expenses is justifiable, the cost is tax deductible. But in our situation, as a freelancer, some of those expenses related to personal usage, we can only do an estimation of the cost allocation based on percentage. For example, we take petrol, petrol as expenses, we assume 70% of the cost is actually for the business usage. And 30%… of course, we might use it after we meet the client and went to the grocery and pick up something, of course that is another another business. So it’s hard for the government to justify anything. So we have this so called norm to decide that okay, the 70 and 30 will be clear for them, and they that they can accept it. That will be good for them.

Jean  06:53

So let’s talk about filing taxes in Malaysia now, shall we? If you’re wondering which form to fill in as a freelancer, since you’re not employed by a company, Sean has a pretty simple way of remembering.

Sean  07:05

I believe we all heard about from B and from BE, right, make it simple. BE… the E stands for employment. So if your main income is from employment, then more likely you will report under the form BE. So for me, the B itself stands for business. So if your main income is from the businesses, you are under form B. Of course, our people are confused when we are working and at the same time having an other source of income. Very easy. If you have a business or whether registered under the SSM or only using a personal trademark, this requires a freelancer, go for Form B. Just that. 

Sarah   07:40

Any final thing that freelancers should know about filing taxes?

Jean  07:44

There is this thing by our government called the CP 500. It’s like a tax installment based on your business estimates like so you estimate how much profit you’re going to make for the year and then you fill out the form and everything. And the first payment will be on the first of March. And then the other payments will be due on like specific dates that are spaced out throughout the year. And the amount that you pay each month will be based on that estimated income that you had filled up in the form. So this is so that you won’t feel the burden of paying a whole lump sum of tax during the next reporting period. So rather than paying say, 10,000 ringgit worth of taxes at the end of the year, or during the next tax period, you split it up into like 12 payments throughout the year. It’s a lot easier in the pocket, I guess.

Sarah   08:31

Yeah, that’s quite helpful. Well, this was a load of information. I guess that’s why it’s good to have an accountant to work with, right? What are the benefits that you’ve had working with an accountant?

Jean  08:44

Yeah, oh, my god, there’s so many benefits. And I would actually say that any Freelancer who has a regular income, like you know, if you have a lot of retainer clients, like just get an accountant, they’ll free up so much of your headspace and clear out like your headaches over admin and finance. Because the thing about accountants is that they should be up to date on all the requirements. Like you know, what kind of payments are required, what kind of things are tax deductible? How can you start a business in a way that… they know all these like things that you need to do you know, and they will be able to provide advice on that. Remember that earlier, we said bookkeeping is just one of the processes in accounting. So that’s really the least of your worries, because anyone can do that, you know, but a good accountant would be able to help you think about increasing profits and decreasing costs as well, since they’re able to interpret the numbers, they will be able to see where your business is operating inefficiently. Like you’re spending too much on something or not making enough money from certain areas like you know, due to exchange rates and things like that, and they would be able to help you optimize.

Sarah   09:47

And which stage do you think a freelancer or a solopreneur should hire an accountant?

Jean  09:52

If you can afford it, just do it. You can start small with maybe someone to just give you like tax advice or something like that. And if you’re running like a larger business, you might want to look into getting someone who can provide you more advice as well, which will cost more but totally worth it. 

Sarah   10:09

Cool. This has been super helpful even for me. Thank you all for listening. Show Notes for this episode are on our website, www.solosync.xyz. And if you’d like to get in touch with us to suggest a topic for an upcoming episode, you can email us at hello@solosync.xyz. Follow us on Instagram for more updates too. Our handle is @solosyncpodcast. See ya.

Featured photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash