When an Italian retail company wanted to send an employee to the U.S. to oversee the rollout of a few new locations in the New Jersey region, it was assumed there wouldn’t be much of a hassle.
A representative of the company called Alex Serrano, partner at Citrin Cooperman, just to make sure.
“And we had to totally put the brakes on,” Serrano said. “They thought they could just ship someone over. They weren’t paying any attention to immigration laws, they hadn’t secured a working visa.
“Our laws are extremely complicated. If you have a foreign employee, you have to get a Social Security number. If you’re spending more than 183 days in here, you have to pay worldwide income taxes.”
That’s just one way an accounting firm obtains business from steering foreign companies in the right direction. Citrin Cooperman has gotten business of this sort at an increased frequency over the past five to seven years.
“Europe has been in a tremendous recession, worse than we’ve had,” he said. “So many of these significant-sized entities are setting up shop here, creating an outlet besides their sole market in Europe.”
And, as evidenced by the visa-less Italian retailer, many of these companies need help navigating the muddy waters of overseas legal frameworks. That’s especially important when complexities from one North American state to the next are more pronounced than one country to its neighbor in Europe.
Serrano has an example: an Italian lighting company he worked with that was completely oblivious to the fact that it was violating state tax and employment laws. The company was doing business through a subsidiary and wasn’t familiar with the distinctions between local laws.
Helping companies such as these operate across state borders and still be taxed on a cumulative basis is a crucial service Citrin Cooperman and other accounting firms are offering.
But that’s far from all an accounting firm offers. For one of the first international companies Citrin Cooperman took on, a window frame manufacturer from Spain, the firm did just about everything.
“The manufacturing company invested big into the U.S. market, but the real estate market crashed the same year they expanded here,” Serrano said. “They experienced five years of losses, but now they’re breaking into the market and it’s paying off.”