Those of you that regularly read this blog will know that we have tried to be ‘legal’ here since we arrived, which includes being resident and having our respective businesses registered here so that we can pay tax and contribute fairly to the system and country we have chosen to live in.
When we first started looking into running a business here we were under no illusions that it would be complicated and that we would probably find ourselves drowning in bureaucracy and paperwork – and we were not disappointed!
One of the first things we knew that we needed would be a good accountant, and not wanting to plunge completely into the dark, we asked around and got a recommendation from someone we knew. I think in hindsight we should probably have been more wary from the start – and without naming any names in this article – suffice to say that arriving at an accountant’s office and being greeted by their secretary in a plush office that could easily have graced a five-star hotel; complete with plush sofas, coffee table with magazines placed ‘just-so’ and a ‘free’ coffee from the luxury coffee machine .. probably should have made us more wary of just how much this was going to cost us.
Little did we know it had the potential to ‘cost us’ in more than one way!
We initially met with the accountant and talked through what we wanted – which was a simple registration under the Portuguese ‘sole trader’ simplified tax system. We took lots of notes, asked lots of questions, having already done some research, but to be honest, in a different country with very different systems, you do have to trust the professional that you are paying for. Without going into too many personal details, we trusted them, they set us up, and within a few weeks it had all started to go bad.
In fact, it was so bad, that when we wrote to them after four months to terminate the signed agreement we had with them – they agreed without a murmur, returned all of our paperwork, put everything in writing that we owed them nothing further – and we were back to square one – somewhat lighter in the wallet, and fuming – but determined to find a decent accountant!
And that’s where we met our financial guardian angel! After more research, asking around and getting another recommendation, we struck gold. We met Sílvia, from Andrez & Fernandes Accountants, and we were instantly put at ease. She has a desk in the corner of the office of her father, she doesn’t have a fancy coffee machine, or glossy magazines on display. What she does have is a fantastic knowledge of the system out here, a gentle quiet manner and a sense of purpose that instantly reassured us.
She sorted out the mess that we had been left with, updated all of our paperwork; and now submits all of our invoices and receipts and completes our tax return for an unbelievably reasonable annual fee. She replies to emails the same day, is efficient, sensible and caring – everything we could wish for in an accountant.
Sadly we have now recommended her so many times that she has asked us to let everyone know that she is now ‘full up’ and unable to take on any new clients at present.
But if you do get to meet her – say hello from us!