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Living in Poland with income from the US.


BuckeyeInPoland
22 Jul 2018 #1
Greetings all!

Thanks for the great info that can be found on this site.

Quick question:

I am an Ameican married to a EU citizen and we are considering moving to the EU to enjoy Europe and a lower cost of living. We are considering a few options, namely Poland and Bulgaria.

I have a sole proprietorship in the US for freelance virtual assistance work that I do. Income gets reported on my Schedule C and I pay SE taxes in the US. All of my clients are in the US.

I know that living in Poland, I would be a tax resident in Poland. I would probably have the pay the flat 19% income tax on the business profits.

Would I also have to pay into ZUS in Poland as well? I would be a tax resident, but all of my income will be US business income.

If so, would it be a flat rate or a percentage?

Thanks so much for your help!
user_ja - | 1
23 Jul 2018 #2
ZUS provides public insurance medical and pension insurance.
Insurance premiums is a complicated issue (there are three - medical, social, pension and for each of them - several fees), but you have to paid them when your businnes has been registrated in Poland (for you and your businnes itself). And - of course - for every your employee (and there are more fees than for your businnes itself) regardless where businnes has been registrated.

If you aren't employee and your businnes hasn't been registrated in Poland - you should pay medical insurance premium to ZUS by yourself as a person, otherwise you will not have the right to health care. Of course, doctors and hospitals admittes you, but they issue a invoice (for rescue operation, examination etc.).

OK, if you pay now SE taxes, in Poland you should pay taxes of yours all incomes (unlimited tax obligation). Paying taxes in Poland isn't profitable in comparision to (rather) any country in world.

Bad news is that you can deducte from tax only part of public insurance fees. And if you're planning being in Poland on pension, there is second bad news - pension in Poland is taxed, from another country too (for example - if you will have a pension from your insurance in USA - living in Poland you'll pay 18%/32% tax of its sum and the same with Polish pension). And third bad news is in Poland pension it even burdened with insurance premiums. And tax-free amount is lesser even than in most African countries.

So, being on pensions in Poland is bad idea - you pay pension fee and tax before pension and you pay second tax on pension. The same with medical insurance.
OP BuckeyeInPoland
31 Jul 2018 #3
Thanks @user_ja for your response!
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #4
We are considering a few options, namely Poland

Do it!!! You will live like a king in Poland on a US salary. Even $65 $70k a year which would be a top salary of like 20k zloty that very few people earn will allow you to rent a huge place (or save up and buy - some homes can be quite expensive though in the cities, but there's also plenty for like $100k, a really nice place for $200 $250k), go on lots of vacations, eat out all the time, and still be able to put some money aside. I am a dual US-Polish citizen and am quite a similar boat minus the married part.
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #5
to enjoy Europe and a lower cost of living.

Just remember that 'Europe' is made up of many different countries with distinct cultures and identities. The two countries you've shortlisted, Poland and Bulgaria are known as accession states which means that they've only recently joined the EU and become 'European' in the political sense of the word. They are new democracies and the vestiges of the old Soviet system still permeate much of the culture and mindset. Add to that, the fact that neither nation was very developed before the second world war and you will find that it's a very different experience to living in the USA and not always in a positive sense. As far as lower cost of living goes, you will pay western European prices for imported goods and things like computers, televisions etc.

The other thing to note is that under the present government, the chances of Poland leaving the EU are looming ever larger. If that happens the value of the złoty will tumble. It's already peforming less well against the dollar and euro and investors are beginning to get a bit nervous so be wary of acquiring too many assets in Poland. Come to Poland for two years (a year is not long enough), rent and see what you think of living there but don't make a permanent move.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #6
recently joined the EU and become 'European' in the political sense of the word.

Joining the EU has NOTHING to do with being European. Poland was a European country long before the EU, about a thousand years. Poland was a european country before, during, and will be regardless of the eu.

And stop saying that poles are trying to leave the eu that is complete bs. Something like 80% of poles wish to remain in the eu. Only a tiny minority of poles are calling for a polexit. Poland will remain in the eu for the foreseeable future. There's many other countries like France or Czechy where there's far less support for remaining in eu.

There's many countries that are European by geography, culture, Christian heritage, lifestyle, etc that aren't eu nations. Being an EU member doesn't make one European. Just as if Turkey joined the eu it wouldn't make it a European country as it does not even lay in Europe nor does it have a European culture.

investors are beginning to get a bit nervous so be wary of acquiring too many assets in Poland.

Rofl So not true.... The level of FDI is constantly growing. Every week there's a new multi million or even billion dollar factory office or other facility that foreign companies are opening up.

euronews.com/2018/01/23/why-poland-is-a-top-fdi-destination
financialobserver.eu/poland/poland-is-the-leader-in-the-fdi-inflow-in-central-and-southeast-europe
tradingeconomics.com/poland/foreign-direct-investment

They are new democracies and the vestiges of the old Soviet system still permeate much of the culture and mindset.

Among the older generations yes. Definitely not amongst youth. Poland hasn't been a commie country for 30 years. A huge chunk of the population never even experienced the commie system. Also about 1/4 To 1/3 of the population speaks English. Amongst younger people in citirs it's nearly everyone.

But it's not necessarily a bad thing. That leftover mindset and attitude is what has allowed Poland to not have a single, a big fat 0 terror attacks. France uk Belgium germany etc can't say that. Plus there's no such thing as no go zones, no thousands of people praying outside, no buses plastered with crap about subhan Allah and Ramadan, no ninja women - our women our drop dead gorgeous and show it off, and your wife wont have to worry about being sexually assaulted like in sweden or germany or other w European countries. I'll take vestiges of communism

Oh And also the economy is growing and regularly exceeds 4% which is far more than just about every w European country. At The same time unemployment is going down and wages going up. That may not matter to you as you'll live off a US income but should you or your wife decide to enter the workforce you'll find a decent job.

euronews.com/2018/03/13/poland-a-rising-economic-star

Europe's growth champion - Poland
ft.com/content/3b7e3428-8525-11e8-a29d-73e3d454535d

Read this article yesterday - even irish Ryan air planning to.move to Poland lol
arabnews.com/node/1348706/business-economy
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #7
Well Dirk, I speak as a European from Western Europe and I live in Poland. Your views are those of a Polish-American who doesn't live in Poland so we see things differently.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #8
Doesn't change the fact that everything I wrote above is true and can be backed up by a variety of credible sources including ones I posted about FDI and Polands economy. your claims, eh not so much... But feel free to cite some credible sources about poles looking to leave the eu, investors getting worried and pulling out of poland or FDI levels going back to pre eu days or even the p.o. days...

Oh And far as the 'commie vestiges' that's funny you mention that because that's exactly what the government is cleaning up in the courts. Yet you seem to view both the commie vestiges and current regime and situation in Poland as negative.

speak as a European from Western Europe

Exactly. You are viewing Poland as a western European, not a Pole or even a Polish speaker. Hence by default you have a different worldview than a Pole would have.

and I live in Poland.

Same. I have a home in Poland and all my paperwork shows I live in both Poland and us. A person can have 2 passports, 2 citizenships. 2 or more homes - which the OP and his wife will.undoubtedly also have. And unlike you I speak fluent polish, was born in Poland and most od family lives in poland with rest in germany UK us etc.

How can you claim to understand Poland and polish society when you can't even speak the language and communicate with Poles? Your worldview is based on a western European looking in who only receives English language news in regards to poland and can only converse with poles who speak English which automatically prohibits you from socializing with the majority of polish society
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #9
you can't even speak the language and communicate with Poles?

I do actually speak Polish, at least I know it's mieszkam w Polsce a nie żyję w Polsce and 'nie mam czasu' not 'nie mam czas' - just to reference a couple of your little past errors :))

And everything you wrote can easily be argued with. Anyway, you don't live in Poland Adrian and that's a fact.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #10
If it's a fact can you prove it? Because I don't believe you can. How do you know I'm not in Alaska right now, or Malaysia? The fact is, as I've stated before, I do own a home in Poland and spend months at a time there. Yes I live in America far more than Poland as I make more money here than I would in Poland and have a degree to finish. Like i said, a person can have more than 1 citizenship, more than 1 passport, and spend their time in different places... idk why thays so hard to grasp

And I've stated

I do actually speak Polish

Suuuure you do... and stating something like nie man czas na to would be acceptable and depends on context.

at least I know it's mieszkam w Polsce a nie żyję w Polsce and '

Nope. Both are pretty acceptable I.e. the song by strachy na lachy - Żyję w kraju w którym wszyscy chcą mnie zrobić w chuja... now do you know what that means

But fine go ahead and attack me instead of citing sources to prove the claims about Poland you wrote above.
You can start with how poles want to leave the eu or how investors are getting cold feet and FDI is plummeting, how the economy is stagnant etc
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #11
The mere fact that you'd say Poland just became 'European' after joining the EU shows how little you know about poles and polish society. Tell that to any pole, even in English, and they'll school you on Polands thousand year European history.

As If the eu membership determines the 'europeanness' of a european country.... pfffttt... I guess Serbia Belarus Iceland Norway Switzerland macedonia ukraine vatican city and several others are all not European countries then
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #12
Suuuure you do.

Ale tak,na pewno mówię i bardzo ładnie so people tell me :)) but my grammar really is atrocious, nearly as bad as yours.

Both are pretty acceptable

Well I'm always asked 'jak długo Pani tu mieszka'. It means to reside and is the usual usage, whereas żyć is more to do with 'living' in the sense of being alive or one's way of life, that kind of thing.

and spend their time in different places..

But you don't. And you said 'Nie mam czas.' with a full stop at the end. Wrong and that's that.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #13
But you don't.

Right, guess all the pics in wroclaw Czechy and dortmund i have from last summer, this winter, and a few months back are all photoshopped... I'll be going again this winter between semesters

but my grammar really is atrocious, nearly as bad as yours.

Great then you can explain how poles want to leave the EU, how FDI is collapsing and how the economy is stagnant, write it even in polish bad grammar and all.
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #14
It's not Poles but PIS who wants to leave the EU. I never said that FDI was collapsing. However investments currently being made in Poland have been in the pipeline for years. New ones may be jeopardized by the political direction Poland is taking. I also know that my złoty buys me fewer euros than it did and the subject of the falling złoty and it's decline against the dollar was the subject of an article in the FT recently. Look at the way the pound fell back in 2016 and sterling is a far stronger currency than the złoty - it hasn't recovered yet. Anybody with an ounce of common sense would realize that if Poland left the EU a period of instability would follow.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #15
It's not Poles but PIS who wants to leave the EU.

No They dont. Pis explicitly stated that they don't want to leave the eu, what they seek is a better relationship with the eu and want them to respect Polands independence and sovereignty and not meddle in our political and domestic affairs.

However investments currently being made in Poland have been in the pipeline for years

Some Yes they've been planned for years - many of them since 2015 when pis was democratically elected. Others like the Mercedes factory or Ryan air are recently. And companies don't care about whether the government doesn't want to take migrants or changes it's courts. What matters is the bottom line and as long as there aren't significant threats to that companies will continue to invest in Poland. Foreign corps spend millions determining the pros and cons of opening a facility in Poland. Clearly they see more pros than cons which is why fdi has dramatically increased since 2014 2015 and continues to be very strong.

would realize that if Poland left the EU a period of instability would follow.

No ****. Precisely why 80% of poles and the current government don't want to leave. In UK it was a different situation and the economy was in a different spot. Poland doesn't have the migrant problems uk does and isnt paying in billions so the people don't see much reason to have a polexit.

If you feel Poland is such a bad backwards place that isnt developed and 'European' like WE and it's currency is failing, it's government is going back to it's commie past, the people are xenophobic and all that, why do you continue to live there?
Atch 17 | 2,914
1 Aug 2018 #16
Ryan air

They haven't actually moved here yet. Yer man is just letting off steam, probably won't come to anything.

I never said the people are xenophobic either, where did you get from? Why do I live here? Well kochany mąż jest Polakiem as you know, and he wanted to give it a go here again so here we be! However I don't know if we'll stay here. We may well move back to Ireland at some point. There are things he loves about Poland and things he detests. Probably most people have a bit of a love/hate relationship with their homelands.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
1 Aug 2018 #17
That's understandable. You have eu citizenship so basically all of Eu is open to you. Although with brexit the situation may be a little different.

Still though I think that the op would find way more pros than cons living in Poland. More so than Bulgaria anyway. Bulgaria is far poorer and less developed. Lot of corruption too. Poland is a good middle ground between having the wealth and development and economy of a w European nation while still retaining it's homogeneity and culture like much of e Europe
OP BuckeyeInPoland
1 Aug 2018 #18
Thanks all for your comments.

I lived in a developing country (Guyana) for 6 years, far poorer than Bulgaria, so I am not worried about it from that standpoint. I enjoyed life there far better than in the US for various reasons. So I am not worried about that type of environment. I wouldn't be planning or able to invest in real estate in Poland, so there is very little risk to trying it out for a time.

I was able to consult with a Polish accountant on the taxes. My wife and I would have to pay the fixed ZUS contributions (reduced for the first 2 years) in addition to the standard income taxes. With the totalitarian agreement between the US and Poland, I would not have to pay self-employment tax to the US, which is a nice advantage for Poland over Bulgaria. I don't like the idea of paying into two social systems on top of income tax. I am hoping to have a productive consult with an accountant familiar with Bulgarian tax law as well. I really want to explore all options.

Do it!!

I love this attitude. The plan is definitely full steam ahead, baring the details.
Laughingoutloud
1 Aug 2018 #19
I can see why you spend so much time on the website considering you don't have a wife

The only thing on this guy's mind is living like a king while in reality he hasn't done anything for Poland or America
Atch 17 | 2,914
2 Aug 2018 #20
ou have eu citizenship so basically all of Eu is open to you. Although with brexit the situation may be a little different.

The UK is still open to me even after Brexit because of the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland. We have a reciprocal aggreement where Irish (as in Republic of Ireland) and British citizens have the same rights in each other's countries including the right to permanent residence and voting in each other's elections etc. It's basically all the rights of citizenship without the passport. And our spouses have those rights too so if Mr Atch and I wanted to move to the UK after Brexit, there's no problem.

I lived in a developing country (Guyana) for 6 years,

One big difference in everyday life between there and Poland is the language. English is an official language of Guyana with paperwork, official things etc all in English and that's not the case in Poland and although far more people speak a bit of English than ten years ago, they are by no means fluent. You will both need to learn some Polish.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,671
2 Aug 2018 #21
We have a reciprocal aggreement where Irish (as in Republic of Ireland) and British citizens have the same rights in each other's countries

shhh Atch, Dirk doesn't want to know facts like that..
Ironside 48 | 9,892
2 Aug 2018 #22
It's not Poles but PIS who wants to leave the EU

Levin in Poland doesn't make you understand issues. You're plainly wrong on this. I whish you were right.

Poland left the EU a period of instability would follow.

Blah blah ...
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
2 Aug 2018 #23
I wouldn't be planning or able to invest in real estate in Poland, so there is very little risk to trying it out for a time.

Definitely rent at first.. Even once/if you decide to buy you have to be super careful. Unfortunately there's many agents title companies etc that try to scam foreigners buying property and you can easily be left high and dry. With renting though you won't be tied down and can always leave and at most you'll lose a small security deposit. You can get a pretty big apartment for 4k a month which is around 1.2k usd. Most decent sized apartments in cities start around 2.5 3k zloty

Yes unfortunately the US is one of the only countries which seeks to extort taxes from expats working/living abroad. But there's ways around that. One nice thing though is you can collect us social security while living abroad.

Id get a second opinion on zus. You may not have to pay it as a self employed person who's getting an income from the us but you wouldn't get the benefits which isn't a big deal. Plus good private healthcare is cheap in Poland. I'm not too familiar with zus as I pay into krus but I do know there are certain exemptions for zus.

Btw your username has 'buckeye' in it. Are you from Ohio (buckeye state)? I use to live out there and went to college there.
Joker 1 | 1,140
2 Aug 2018 #25
You have a good eye for troll spotting. Hes not even that good at it, just annoying.

Do it!!! You will live like a king in Poland on a US salary.

That sounds like a golden opportunity for him and worth checking out for a year or two before making a life long commitment.

I would take internet/forum advise with a grain of salt, especially on here.

Too many expats with axes to grind against Americans. I would only trust a native Pole or other Yank for this kind of advise.

I use to live out there and went to college there.

Can you explain all the stickers on the right side of their helmets, are they like awards?
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
2 Aug 2018 #26
You may want to also explore options like restructuring your company so that you're officially paying yourself a small salary that way you'll save on the zus and Obama care if the exemption isn't available. There's also the 3rd country option i.e. funneling through lithuania which has lax banking laws, especially with crypto for whatever reason, or sending money as a remittance to your wife while claiming no income abroad or setting up a 2nd company in poland if the tax breaks or potentisl for grants and funds are worthwhile. I'm not an expert on this so definitely consult with someone who is. There's several corpprate attorneys and cpas that deal with expat taxes. There's quite a few in Chicago where there's a ton of poles with dual citizenship who more often than not work in the us but send money to Poland.

Anyway good luck. Hope it all works out. As im sure you're aware the lifestyle is way different outside the us. Imo it's way less stressful, way more culture, you don't have the bogus daily grind, there's way more vacation days, there isn't masses of low iq unsophisticated fatasses more often than not living on benefits - what upsets me the most about the us, and you have all of Europe open to you. Visiting another European country is easier in most cases than visiting another state in the us. But the pros of the us, imo, are more business opportunities, far easier to 'get rich quick,' and more stability. It just depends what you want out of life. Btw when are you planning to make this move? What cities in Poland and Bulgaria are you looking at? Also if you ever need to change dollars into zloty or vice versa let me know, I am a silent partner in a currency exchange right outside of wroclaw and can do large amounts for a flat fee as opposed to some crazy commission even as high as 48% (most I've ever seen, was in czechy).

Too many expats with axes to grind against Americans. I would only trust a native Pole or other Yank for this kind of advise.

On that note there's one former pf member dude should speak to about this as he's been living in Poland for quite a while and knows every loophole there is when it comes to us expats living in Poland... hes been there since rhe 90s. I think you know who I'm talking about joker ..

You have a good eye for troll spotting. Hes not even that good at it, just annoying.

Best to just ignore them. If you don't feel the troll they go away. What is funny though how he talks about people posting here a lot when he's got something like 15k posts - under just one username alone lol. Oh and talking sh1t about 'contributing' to Poland when the only thing he adds to is the obesity rate.

Can you explain all the stickers on the right side of their helmets, are they like awards?

I didn't go to OSU but I went to several of their games and partied there a lot as my schools party scene kind of sucked. But those stickers are like accomplishments like when they got into playoffs, rivalries they won, championships etc.
OP BuckeyeInPoland
2 Aug 2018 #27
restructuring your company so that you're officially paying yourself a small salary that way you'll save on the zus and Obama care if the exemption isn't available.

Yeah, I talked to a Polish CPA and got some valuable feedback. I doubt we make enough to worry about incorporating businesses or a salary at this point. It seems like our tax burden would actually be lower in Poland. Bulgaria would be a different story without the totalitarian agreement. I think the only way to get out of paying SE tax is to form a business there and pay ourselves a salary out of that business. That's a whole other can of worms, but I am waiting to hear back from a CPA there as well.

My wife and I are pretty low income for the US and value time and freedom more than money and things. We live simply and enjoy flexible schedules freelancing. I think Poland would take that to the next level.

Btw when are you planning to make this move? What cities in Poland and Bulgaria are you looking at?

The two cities in Poland we are interested in are Poznan and Lodz. They seem to have a nice mix of cheapness vs. amenities. Other cities like Krakow or Warsaw seem nicer, but more expensive. We are looking to go as cheap as possible and save some money. We like to have small places, ride public transit, cook and eat at home, ect. I feel like if we are frugally, we could live off of around 7-8,000 Zloty. Does that sound reasonable?

If we could go to Bulgaria, it would be Sofia.

You will both need to learn some Polish.

I would love too! I don't expect others to cater to me when I am the visitor/outsider.

7-8,000 Zloty

Actually i meant 5-6,000 Zloty
gumishu 11 | 5,017
2 Aug 2018 #28
5-6,000 Zloty

it is doable - we as a family of four live for not much more than 4000 Zloty but our rent is quite cheap cause we live in the countryside
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,473
2 Aug 2018 #29
@BuckeyeInPoland

Poznan is decent I have family there - one uncle who's a retired major and a cousin who is a judge. Lodz isn't that pretty. Warsaw can be hectic. Krakow, wroclaw (where im from) and tri cities are my favorite in terms of work life balance. I love the zakopane region but it's not a good place for a corporate business type... maybe for retirement tho...

5-6,000 Zloty

You can live off that no problem but honestly that's not a big sum of money for Poland for 2 people esp if you want to save some cash. That will be a bit dofficult unless of course youre talking 5k 6k netto (after taxes). The average salary in Poland is around 4k zs brutto (pre tax) and closer to 5k in major cities. Imo, a good upper middle class existence starts at a min of 10k zs plus.

However depending on your qualifications, education, business experience etc you can land a job that pays 10k plus
Atch 17 | 2,914
3 Aug 2018 #30
We like to have small places, ride public transit, cook and eat at home, ect.

Don't worry about small places, no problem there. Polish apartments are tiny compared to what you're used to in America. If you want to rent cheaply you'll be looking at a one room apartment of very modest proportions, under 300sq feet. Rents are comparatively high in Polish cities relative to salary. Take a look at what's on offer in Poznań:

domiporta.pl/mieszkanie/wynajme/wielkopolskie/poznan?PricePerMeter.To=1000

As you can see it's going to cost you minimum of around1,000zl per month for a small one room place and on top of that there will be a service charge, usually of 400-500 which covers cold water and rubbish, sometimes hot water and central heating are included, but not always. Sometimes the ads give the amount of the 'czynsz' and sometimes not but budget for 400-500 in addition to the stated rent. If you want to live in something where you can swing a cat (around 400-500 sq feet) you'll need to budget for up to 2,000 per month including czynsz. Then you have internet,electricity, possibly gas and possibly hot water and central heating so that will be another 300 or thereabouts.

Grocery shopping depends of course on what you like to eat but budget for at least 1200 a month for two adults and remember to factor in personal care products, cleaning products etc.

So that's around 3-4,000 for your basics.

Krakow or Warsaw seem nicer

Only if you like heavily polluted air in winter. Poland has 33 out of the 50 most polluted cities in Europe and sometimes smog levels in the towns you mention are on a par with Bejing. Warsaw is not nice. It's sprawling, traffic ridden and pretty ugly. The Stare Miasto is charming and parts of the city centre and a few nearby areas such as Mokotów have their appeal but it's not an attractive city by an means. However it definitely has plenty going on in arts, culture, sports, whatever you're in to.

Just come to Poland with realistic expectations and you'll be fine. It's not a Paradise by any means and there's an evergrowing number of 'hipsters' and upwardly mobile types who are a bit cringeworthy :)) Together with that you get the 'bumpkin' factor and there's still a lot of downright rudeness. But there are nice people too and lots of natural beauty to explore (when they're not busy polluting it and chopping down the ancient forests, do you know about Białowieża?).

I'm curious. You say your wife is an EU citizen. Does she not want to live in her own country?? Would it not make sense to settle there if you don't like America?


Home / Work / Living in Poland with income from the US.
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