If You are a Freelancer, The World is a Ripoff - Or is it Just a Ripoff for Everyone?

Well, the countdown until Brexit D-day is on. With it, is my race to see if I can escape Malta before the borders close. Of course, I could stay. However, staying will be a huge mistake from a financial standpoint. To sum up why:

  • Rents in Malta are increasing exponentially (They shouldn’t be but that’s another story.)
  • Tax and social security here are way too high and I get nothing for it. I have to pay double SS but I’m not entitled to any benefits if I ever need them and at the rate things are going, I might one day end up working just to pay tax
  • It’s boring and angry. If you are a tourist, you will probably love Malta. However, really the place is just an ever busier building site. No trees, no mountains, no rivers, no wildlife, just a few pretty cliffs

As it is, I’m focusing solely on tax, social security, and the stability of rental prices when planning my (hopeful) escape. Cyprus comes in at the top in this regard, as if I play my cards right and earn less than $20K (Euros) per year, I would pay zero tax.

Now, I realize that this is not a wild figure. However, looking at places like Spain, Portugal, and Greece (I like the sunshine, you see) flat rates of self-employment income tax and social security, would equate to approximately 40-50% of my overall income. Why on Earth, in this case, would I try to earn $30K to $40K there, only to have 50% swiped away by the taxman?

To me, it makes perfect sense to try and earn less and pay less tax, even if this means going on OOO for a couple of months every year.

As a second option, there is The Republic of Georgia. Tax is minimal, there is no social security system, and rents are super cheap. There is also tons of culture and the visa system allows almost anyone to enter for up to 1-year, during which time they can choose to stay longer by investing, setting up a business, or simply by working as a freelancer.

As it is, I’m keeping Georgia as my backup plan.

Locations aside, though, I find myself increasingly upset about the very idea of tax. Of course, you say that and people immediately jump on the bandwagon and shout “but everyone has to pay tax!” - But why?

As I get older, I just see it as a huge scam. In the U.S. and every EU country aside from Bulgaria and Iceland, the tax you pay doesn’t go into building roads, infrastructure, or even paying for the military. Governments take out loans to pay for the next years’ government spending via the IMF. Meanwhile, tax collected goes to pay the IMF for the last years loans, but there is always a shortfall because of overspending and the interest loans have accrued. This is why every country affected by the crash of 2008 is actually in a lot more debt now than it was in 2008.

As for social security, no one can afford to live on a state pension when they retire. In this case, they need to pay into a private pension also. In theory, though, I could live very comfortably in a low tax, zero SS place like Georgia, not have to cap how much I earn and save 50% of what I earn to pay for my eventual retirement and/or any rainy days which might come along in the meantime. (Can you see why Georgia is on my radar.)

Now imagine if everyone could choose whether or not to pay social security. My guess is that people who float between jobs and/or who are financially irresponsible would pay. Namely, because they know they need the perks. Conversely, people who save for rainy days and their future wouldn’t. This would then no doubt lead to the implosion of social security systems as we know them. However, as someone who has to pay but can’t rely on a social security safety net anyway, I think this is a good thing. (And trust me I’ve been beyond poor).

Tax I can live with, providing the people I pay tax to are accountable for how they manage the revenue they collect. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have 44% tax rates in places like Greece, if past government officials could be put on trial and made accountable for financial mismanagement of the economy. As soon as you do that, after all, you can be assured that future politicians will be a bit more careful.

In fact, on that note, why do we even live in a world where politicians aren’t also held accountable to the pledges they make in their manifesto before getting elected?

And I suppose this is where I’m going with this. This world is a ripoff. Why? Because if I don’t do what my job description says I should, I get fired. If I don’t pay tax, I get arrested. If I get in debt, I get hunted down by debt collectors. Conversely, the authorities which hold me to account for all of the above, are immune to any semblance of the same accountability. - And that’s just wrong. Isn’t it?

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I don’t understand your fixation with Georgia. Other than tax, is there anything else appealing about it? Are the landscapes beautiful? Are the locals friendly? Are their cuisines out of this world?

I guess I’m at a point where I seek adventure, beauty and just plain fun.

I hate paying social security taxes. I can invest it and make at least 2x more on my own then from the government.

I would love a flat tax in USA, but doubt that would happen.

Malta, on a final note, looks beautiful; however, I’d give insane being stuck on an island. I do see your desire to leave.

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To be honest, it comes from the Glaciers they have. I actually started training to be a glacier guide in New Zealand as I literally loved spending time on the glacier where I lived (Franz Josef). Ever since then I’ve loved the idea of living in a place as naturally abundant, diverse, and geographically interesting as that.

As soon as Chico dies (horrible thing to say but it’s true) I’ll either be back in NZ or in a place called Bariloche in Argentina. I’m basically either mountains or islands :slight_smile:

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Yes, and this is what annoys me. My Gran was as hard working as they come. When she was dying, her brother told me how for 20-years, she walked 2-miles everyday to the nearest bus stop that could take her to work. As it was, her pension never covered anything and we had to sell her house to afford drop in carers and rent in a tiny sheltered housing apartment. If she had lived 2-3 years longer, she would have had to live with one of my family or go into an appallingly run care home because the money was already running out.

(She wanted her independence btw, she could have lived with my family at any time.)

I also have pretty horrific memories of my aunt running round the hospital when my uncle was dying, because patients with his kind of cancer were only allowed 1 or 2 of a certain kind of pain relief medication. - Not because he might overdose, but because it was expensive.

Then there is me. In the UK I had a few occasions where I needed to apply for welfare when out of work. On every occasion, I was treated like a criminal. I got the measly $60 or whatever they give you. However, I was always in work again in a max of 3-weeks.

You just get nothing from it. (If you are a normal human being who takes responsibility for their own life.) Like you, I could either save or invest what I pay myself. As it is, I just feel robbed.

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Wow, that’s nutty.

I suppose the health insurance we have in the states are a little bit better but not by much. I’m lucky enough to have a decent one so not going to quit my daytime job anytime soon.

I truly dislike my job and if ever offered a better opportunity, I’d take it in a heartbeat - kinda, sorta. I have over a decade with the same employment, so at this point, I’ll stick it out until I can retire or win the lottery. I suppose in order for me to win, I’ll have to play! :smile:

To answer your original question in the title: Is the world a rip off or rip off for everyone (freelancers). I suppose all self employed and those dabbling in part time are considered freelancers. That being said, in the USA, I personally think it’s a rip off for everyone.

All self employed pay 2x in social security, have to deal with chargebacks (if you accept credit/paypal - which you almost have to), returned check (those few freelancers that still accept checks), state fees for owning a business . . . basically, everyone has their hand out for more money than you make.

I’m a bit grumpy because tax time is here again. :frowning_face:

Only for its mountains? That town has some history behind it! In any case, I concur with everything said above. Greece is a total tax rip off; I don’t have the statistics to hand, but they’re all going to the banks with minimal amounts to the people (who are concurrently being bled dry). I believe the unemployment rate is still sky high, as well. What’s fun is that the Aegean has quote a lot of tasty natural resources, but it won’t be the Greeks who (eventually) profit, either…

You won’t find many fans of government of any shape or size here: they’re all corrupt, and they’re all criminals. Well, that’s about the long and short of popular sentiment :slight_smile: and I happen to agree.

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