Value Added Tax

As of the 1st of July, 2001, our fairly confused Government introduced VAT on a number of services, including translation. If you are reading this from outside Norway, don't worry - there will be no VAT on my invoices to business addresses outside this country for the foreseeable future. If you're reading this because you prefer my English to my Norwegian, yet you are a legal entity doing business in Norway, read on.

VAT applies to most types of translation, exceptions being made for literary translation and non-commercial translation. Exactly what the latter means is uncertain; possibly that if I translate your CV as a favour, knowing you will help me the next time my mail server crashes, I don't actually have to add VAT to my bill. As there won't be a bill in the first place, it is hard to see where VAT would be applied. If you have a literary masterpiece, a work of fiction (no, not your expense account) that you need translated, I might be able to do it without adding VAT. Which would only be important if you were VAT exempt yourself.

Bottom line: if my adding VAT is a problem to you, go to www.languagewire.com and submit the job for translation. Feel free to notify me if you want me in particular to submit my offer. Languagewire is a Danish organisation working to bring translators and customers in contact through a database that can be anonymous if you need it to be. Customers submit jobs; invitations to tender are distributed to translators within the field in question; translators make their offers of completion date and cost, and the customer chooses the best offer.

In this manner, the translator can invoice languagewire.com VAT free, and the customer can import the service without VAT. Instead of 24% VAT, the customer pays a 3-4% handling fee to Languagewire.

The VAT reform issue has been rightly ridiculed at length in the media, and I won't add much to the ongoing debate here. Politicians in Norway are probably just as comprehensively incompetent as anywhere else, so why we keep voting for them is beyond me. Speaking strictly for myself, I can safely say that the VAT reform that was intended to bring untold bazillions of extra cash into the greedy coffers of the Government, will first have to struggle to recoup the loss of 30 grand or so from me due the VAT refund as well as added expenses that will be written off against tax.