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self-employed For Members

Do you need an accountant in Norway if you are self-employed?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Do you need an accountant in Norway if you are self-employed?
Hiring an account might be a good idea because of their local and industry expertise. Photo by Sarah Elizabeth on Unsplash

In Norway, self-employed people must manage their finances, pay taxes, and comply with various regulations. One crucial decision you'll face is hiring an accountant or handling your financial affairs independently.

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There are multiple ways to formalise a work engagement in Norway. One common approach is traditional employment, where individuals work as employees of Norwegian companies, often with benefits like paid vacation and social security contributions.

Skilled workers in healthcare, engineering, IT, and oil and gas sectors can apply for jobs, with employers frequently sponsoring work permits.

Seasonal work is available in agriculture, tourism, and fishing, often facilitated by visa agreements for seasonal employment.

However, while self-employment doesn't make up a big chunk of the overall work landscape - according to the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, only 6-8 percent of workers in Norway are self-employed - if you do decide to go down that route, you'll need to ensure that you take care of all your financial responsibilities.

One crucial decision you'll face is whether to hire an accountant or handle your financial affairs on your own.

The case for hiring an accountant

Hiring an account might be a good idea because of their local and industry expertise. Norwegian tax laws can be complex if you're an international citizen, and they may change from year to year.

Accountants are trained to navigate these regulations and ensure you take advantage of available deductions and credits while complying with tax regulations.

By doing a quick Google search on accountants in your area, you'll also likely find businesses that can provide accounting services in English, especially if you live in one of Norway's bigger cities.

Secondly, managing finances, bookkeeping, and tax filings can be time-consuming. By delegating these tasks to an accountant, you free up time to focus on your business and private life.

Many self-employed workers in Norway point out that having an accountant is especially convenient when it comes to following deadlines related to reporting (especially if you fall under VAT reporting obligations).

Furthermore, in the event of an audit or tax investigation (which might be particularly stressful in a foreign country), having an accountant who has maintained accurate financial records and can represent you can be invaluable.

They can ensure you respond appropriately to authorities and navigate the audit process, taking some stress and load off your shoulders.

Last but not least, accountants can provide valuable financial insights and advice, which can be very useful if you're navigating Norway's business and administrative waters as a foreign citizen.

You can find a register of authorised accounting firms on the website of the Financial Supervisory Authority.

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When to consider handling your finances on your own

If your business finances are relatively straightforward, with few clients and transactions and minimal complexity, you might be able to manage them on your own.

For instance, sole proprietors (enkeltpersonforetak – ENK) with simple income and expenses may find self-management feasible.

You'll also find several intuitive and easy-to-use accounting software and online platforms designed to simplify financial management for small business owners (for example, Conta is a very popular option).

So, if you're willing to invest time in learning these tools, you may find them sufficient for your needs.

However, it's generally considered a good idea to take care of your own finances only if you have a good understanding of Norwegian accounting principles and taxation – and if you're confident that you can stay informed about changing regulations.

The costs associated with accountants in Norway may be too high for your current financial circumstance. If that's the case, don't stress – you can always consider hiring an accountant as your business grows.

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So… do you actually need an accountant if you're self-employed?

The short answer is no; you aren't obligated to have an accountant as a self-employed worker in Norway – no law requires it.

The longer answer is the one that no one likes to hear (despite it being true) – it ultimately depends on your individual circumstances.

If your business is complex, growing, or subject to complicated tax regulations, hiring an accountant can be the right option for you, as it will provide you with benefits in terms of tax-related reporting, time savings, and peace of mind.

However, if your financial affairs are simple and you have the knowledge and resources to manage them effectively, you might choose to handle them independently.

Unlike in some other European countries, the nice thing about doing business in Norway is that the tax authorities are generally very friendly and helpful, especially if you contact them proactively (before an issue arises).

So you can count on the Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) to support you if you encounter an accounting-related challenge along the way, as long as your request is seen as reasonable, and they even respond to inquiries in English.

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