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Inside Buffer

How We Pay Remote Employees Around the World (and Where the Money Goes)

Buffer is a fully distributed team, which means that our teammates work from anywhere!

Our official headquarters is in California, but¬†we don’t have an office anywhere anymore.

Although this is rare, it seems to be a growing trend. As we grow, it has been great to see how larger remote companies such as Automattic and Toptal set up their distributed teams of over several hundred team members!

Today, about half of the company is based outside of the US.¬†But as an officially¬†American company, we issue payments in U.S. dollars¬†to team members—even those working internationally.

It’s a unique setup for many of our teammates, and recently we’ve been digging in to understand their experiences.

For instance, an international team member spends an average of $852 a year on accounting services.

It’s fascinating to see how each country handles pay and taxes a bit differently.

Similar to how we share our salaries openly, we’re now happy to share the financial setup of a 6 Buffer teammates around the world, including how they’re set up as remote workers, how much they pay in taxes and where that money goes.


Meet Colin, in the UK!

Colin is an happiness engineer who joined Buffer in February 2013. He lives near Cambridge, in the UK with his wife, Caity, and their cat, Mr. Perkins.

In 2013-2014, Colin received an income of $90,000 from Buffer, which translated into a taxable income of £58,398.

In the UK, Colin is registered as self-employed—you can find more information about this status on the UK’s Business Tax governmental website. Colin has been kind enough to share everything he has been paying:

Income$ (USD)£ (GBP)
Yearly Income Before Tax90,00058,398
Yearly Income Tax25,84416,701
Yearly Income After Tax64,15641,458
Monthly Income Before Tax7,5004,846
Monthly Income After Tax5,3463,454

Here is the full breakdown of where Colin’s ¬£16,701,11—the 28.79% of his income going towards contributing to various governments services—were allocated:

British taxes go toward


Meet Mary, in San Francisco!

Mary is a Happiness Hero, who works at Buffer from San Francisco with an annual salary of $92,108.

She kindly shared her last pay stub of the year to help us understand a little bit more about where the money goes when you are employed full-time at a San Francisco-registered startup.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.07.48 PM-1

Out of a total pay of $90,017.95 for 2015, Mary paid out a total of $29,251 in taxes:

  • $15,731 in federal taxes
  • $5,581 in Social Security
  • $1,305.26 for Medicare
  • $5,822.68 in state income tax
  • $810.16 in disability insurance

That’s a 32.5% overall tax rate for Mary. What does that money go toward? Here’s a breakdown from

American tax dollars


Meet Tom, in Canada!

Tom is an Android engineer who joined Buffer in June 2014. He lives in Guelph, Ontario with his girlfriend, Krista, and their dog, Jessie.

In 2014, Tom received an income of $52,872.33 (since he joined mid-year). On this he paid $13,513.66 in taxes and into the mandatory Canadian Pension Plan.

Being self-employed, Tom does not pay into Canada’s Employment Insurance, but he¬†pays “double” what an employee of a corporation would pay into the¬†Canada Pension Plan¬†(employers in Canada match CPP contributions to the yearly maximum).

Tom is set up as self-employed, and keeps up with everything by subtracting any expenses, then plugging in the numbers in this calculator to get his deductions. He keeps track of each item in a spreadsheet that looks like this:

Tom's spreadsheet

He puts the total deduction amount in an basic checking account he uses just for deductions. This is good to have when the Canada Revenue Agency asks for their share!

Speaking of their share: With a¬†taxable income of $52,872.33, Tom estimates his¬†effective income tax rate this year to be ~33.1%.¬†Here’s what¬†Canada will focus on:


Canadian taxes go toward
This year, he has paid the CRA in installments, once per quarter via online banking.

Last year, as it was his first year being self-employed, he just paid it all at once at the end of the year.


Meet Ivana, in Croatia!

Ivana works at Buffer as a software engineer and receives a salary of $92,000 annually. She lives with her husband and her daughter in Zadar, Croatia.

Approximately 55% of her salary goes toward taxes.

In Croatia, it is the responsibility of the employer (not the employee) to pay state taxes and all other obligations.

Croatia has¬†three possible tax rates, depending on one’s salary: 12%, 25% or¬†40%. The bigger the salary, the bigger the percentage—in Ivana’s case, it’s 40%. In addition, she pays 12% city tax.

Ivana has registered a company of which she is the sole owner and director. The advantage of this is that Ivana could lower her salary and thus fall under the lowest tax rate (25%).

However, she would then pay a company tax of 30% of her total yearly income (which in the end comes close to the 55% she would pay if Ivana didn’t lower her¬†salary). You will find here a breakdown of where tax money goes in Croatia!¬†

This is what the calculation looks like when Ivana pays herself the entire salary ($7,666 per month). She ends up with $3,142, which equals 22,000 Croatian kuna (the first number on the picture. The total amount $7,666 is displayed on the bottom of the image = 51.652,07 kuna)


Meet José, in Spain!

José is a back-end developer living in Madrid, Spain, who joined the Buffer team December 2014.

He’s currently working with¬†a freelancer status in Spain (is it called “aut√≥nomo”).

For his status, it’s mandatory to pay for public health insurance. This is also tied to retirement¬†expenses¬†(since you cannot only pay for health insurance).

Jose's spreadsheet

Since Jos√© only began working with Buffer at the end of 2014, 2015¬†will be his first year receiving a full, taxable income—for that year, he’ll pay 32% of taxes, plus another 4.23% on top of this for health insurance – that’s a total of 36.23% of mandatory contributions.

When the Agencia Estatal de Administraci√≥n Tributaria (the bureau responsible for collecting national taxes in Spain) uses Jos√©’s contribution, it will go toward things like pensions, assistance programs, debt and more.

Spanish taxes go toward


Meet Niel, in South Africa!

Niel is a front-end developer at Buffer in Cape Town, South Africa, who’s been with Buffer since August 2013.

Niel’s¬†current annual salary is¬†$101,141.

In South Africa, Niel is categorized as a freelancer/contractor. He pays a provisional tax every six months, which is a prediction of how much potential income he’ll earn throughout the year.

When he starts a new financial year, Niel heads to the South African online tax filing site and requests a preliminary report for his first provisional tax payment.

Then, Niel predicts how much he might earn from Buffer for the year. This allows him to see how much money he needs to put aside every month (in a separate account) so that he can pay twice a year.

Niel shared that he usually overestimates in case his calculations are off. If he does overestimate in the end, he gets a bit of money back.

Inspired by Tom’s setup, Niel¬†uses a similar system¬†to track each payment and how much is taxable income:


At the end of the next financial year, he will file a full tax return. He does this with the help of a tax consultant, and usually sends over the exact spreadsheet he has been keeping tabs on for that year.

Niel’s¬†effective tax rate is about 33%, and here’s a look at South Africa’s budget to see what this contributes toward:


Making it easier to understand finances around the world

Our incredible accounting firm, Foresight, assists us with all these payments around the world; they have been great in helping us grow our distributed team. They even issue payments in Bitcoin for some team members!

We‚Äôre currently trying to make it as easy as possible for all team members—especially international ones—to understand what they can expect financially when it comes to¬†working with Buffer.

When we think about non-US based team members, topics such as taxes, accounting and health insurance come to mind.¬†With 50% of the team being international, we’re eager to dive into all of those topics.

We‚Äôre¬†surveying team members to understand their setups, and we’ve initiated a change in how we wire money internationally, helping us save over $100,000 per year.

Do you work with an international team or have a unique setup to make sense of your tax obligations? Do you have any tips for our team? We would love to hear your thoughts!

  • felicia.cristofaro

    I love the transparency that Buffer exhibits! I wish more companies would act in this way. I think that distributed teams are the way of the future, especially because this concept really seems to jive with Millennials.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • ares0926

    I have seen everyone’s salary posted before but seeing their actual pay stubs and breakdowns made me feel almost uneasy as if I am doing something wrong. My parents were very old school, you don’t talk about peoples salary. I like the idea of transparency and its a new way of thinking for me.

    • Oh wow, that’s so interesting! Thanks for taking a look!

  • Liza Tait-Bailey

    This is so interesting! I’m a British citizen and had been wondering how it worked for us, so I was particularly fascinated to read Colin’s. But I learnt a lot about other countries’ tax systems – thanks for sharing. I wonder what someone would do as a nomad? Would they be tied to their country of citizenship? It’s something I would love to do when I graduate, but the tax part scares me! Thank you for inspiring me to think about it more.

    • Good one, our nomads might need a post of their own! Generally I think you’re absolutely right that it’s tied to your country of citizenship. Maybe I can get some of our world travelers to come by and explain more. :)

      • half_brick

        I would really love to see a post on the situation of the nomads! I’ve always wondered how it works for them. Especially if there’s any who have dual citizenship. I’m in that situation and I’ve always been confused as to how it would work for me if I started living the nomad life.

    • Gareth Cotten

      While I can’t speak for absolutely every country in the world, Liza, it would boil down to the taxation regime that applies in your country, which would generally either be 1) source-based taxation, or 2) residence-based taxation.

      In the case of 1) you are taxed where you do the work. So, say for example the UK worked on a source system of taxation , if you were British, but worked in the US, you’d pay tax in the US. At the same stroke, if you were American working in the UK, you’d pay tax in the UK (as that’s where the _source_ of the income was stemming from).

      In the case of 2), though, you are taxed where you are resident (and this is ‘resident’ for tax purposes, which could be different from citizenship), no matter where the work was done. Say the UK worked on this basis, even if you worked in the US, you’d still have to pay tax in the UK.

      The tricky part comes in where you’re working in jurisdictions that have opposing or non-complementary tax approaches. It is theoretically possible to actually be liable for tax twice (imagine working somewhere where they work on the source basis, but you’re resident somewhere which works on the residence basis), but the vast majority of countries have double tax treaties (DTTs) to avoid this situation…

      • Liza Tait-Bailey

        Thank you so much for your detailed reply Gareth (and sorry that it has taken me so long to see it – I haven’t quite got the hang of disqus yet!). Your information has been really helpful to me and I will definitely take it on board as I approach the possibility of becoming a digital nomad :)

  • Patrick Sawler

    What a great article. Loved how you look at income and cost of living or your employee’s around the world. Keep up the grab work Buffer.

  • Claire Knight

    How does this work with employment contracts and notice periods? I see a lot of these guys are contractors, I presume because of US employment law?

    • Oh, good one, Claire! I’m not quite sure on that; will check around!

      • Claire Knight

        It would be great to know, as I see it used as an excuse to avoid remote workings for both employers and employees (depending on their views!). Yet I think it can work with agreement on both sides.

  • Thanks (as always) for your transparency around this topic! International tax is a mess, further complicated when someone on the team changes their location during a tax year (or more). And this trend continues, as free people like to move around. :)

    Here’s a little tool you might find useful for quick & dirty analysis of comparing payroll differences between locations:
    (basically a team-centric view into the salaries and tax data we’ve gathered while building Teleport Cities,

  • How positively fascinating. Even your team was able to make tax rate breakdowns interesting! I love the idea of becoming an expat, so this was not only intriguing, but also helpful. Thanks for sharing, Rodolphe!

  • tomschouteden

    Working with freelancers to solve international employment issues is a great way to deal with this problem. Employee contracts usually need to be in the local language and abide to local laws which makes running a company like Buffer considerably more complex. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hiya Tom! Thanks for suggesting this article, I am so appreciative! Really glad it helped out. :)

  • alex

    Thanks for this. Very educational and of help to anyone that’s thinking of working remotely. :) I have a very similar setup to Tom (from Canada) so it’s good to hear we must have gotten the same good advice :)

    I’d be particularly interested in how you handle cross-border equity though. Most of the advice on equity seems to be country-specific, and a lot of the usual provisions don’t appear to work cross-border. (For example, the CCPC exemption on gains, as a Canadian example)

    • Hey Alex, these sounds like great additions for a future post! Would love to find out the answers to the equity questions!

  • Do you have any posts sharing how you work together as a mostly remote team?

  • Absolutely fascinating insight into how it differs around the globe!

  • Hey, someone from Croatia. Kudos to Ivana. :)

    • Hey hey Krunoslav! Aw, thanks so much for the kind words :)!

      • Happy to see someone from our small country on a global scale not just complaining about the state of the country we live it. There is always a way. Best of luck Ivana. Greetings from Slavonija. :)

        • Radan Skoric

          You might be also pleased to know that there are several of us from Croatia working for one the other two remote companies mentioned in the post (Toptal). :)

          • Kudos. ńĆestitam. :)

          • Ofca

            We are small, but our taxes are the highest :) “She had to lower her sallary…”

          • Yeah, I know. The government is not enabling entrepreneurs or even freelancer to make money with the same ease as in most western countries, but they want their nearly 50% of tax at the end of each month, whether you made the money or not that month. I know that its not easy and what does not kill you…. hehehe that is why I say Kudos to all from Croatia that made it. :)

        • Matthieu Drula

          Croatia doesn’t have a double-tax treaty with the US.
          Can you be self-employed and only pay the taxes in your country instead of the US or do you have to create a company?

      • Ancronymous

        But Ivana, calculation for you is a bit wrong, you can’t have Osobni odbitak 0. Minimum is 1 (for you), or if you have kids on your pay, one kid 1,5 for two kids is 2.2 and for every kid more is +1 (if you have 3 kids it is in total 3.2). So your real taxes should be a bit lower if you add this.

  • I love the transparency you guys are showing!

    I would have loved to the see breakdown for one of the France-based guys…
    Since I’m about to join a remote team myself, I’m still pondering how to set up my activity there…

    Keep up the good work.

    • Good one, maybe Rodolphe can pop in here and share his setup!

    • Hey Xavier! Many set-ups are available in France, up to ‚ā¨32k/yr, Auto-entrepreneur is advisable, taxed at 25%. Beyond, you can be SASU, EURL or Profession Lib√©rale (what most of us chose). Profession Lib√©rale has you liable both for company taxes (IS) and personal taxes (IR), as a rule of thumb, it’s expected that 50% of your income will go towards taxes :)

      • Thanks Rodolphe!
        Indeed I’ve opted for Autoentrepreneur for the first 32kEUR/year. Then I’ll prolly look into a SASU (with a slightly different activity name, to avoid getting flagged too fast) for anything beyond 32k.

        Thanks again!

      • japf

        AFAIK auto-entrepreneur or others options are risky when you have a single client (in that case Buffer) because Ursaff can go after both the employer and the employee for unpaid taxes. Have you heard about that ?

        • Hey! I’m very new to all those legal dealings, here’s my understanding, as of today: If a company has a legal entity in France and decides to grant full time employment to an Auto-Entrepeneur, it may be at risk of hidden employment. If a company does not have a legal entity in France, and acts as a foreign entity to contract an individual on a project that has no clear legal commit in terms of length/tenure, then it’s fine to self-register yourself as a single client since you have no guarantee, nor legal means, to articulate your current situation as CDI. Since there are no guarantees of employment, it couldn’t possibly be a CDI – it is a consulting agreement, and that fits the SASU/EURL/AE profile.

          • japf

            Thanks Rodolphe for the great feedback :-)

          • I’d actually break this up into two concerns
            One is the French worker where you can also throw in the option of using a salarial portage to administer your “consulting” or “self employed” status.
            The other concern is the company. It is worth bearing in mind that just because a company doesn’t have a legal entity doesn’t preclude the company from being considered active in that country and therefore subject to French tax and employment regulations. The employment relationship is dictated by the location of the worker and the work relationship, not the location of the company. In fact URSSAF provides a service specifically to help foreign companies register and be compliant when hiring employees in France you can read more on their site

  • Top ton article ! Merci Rodolphe :)

  • Our team is 100% distributed in 10+ countries and have struggled with different payment mechanisms (check, paypal, xoom, payoneer etc)… biggest win for me with this article is that you are working with Foresight! Will check them out as I haven’t found anyone this flexible for our operations – haven’t been seriously looking since this was not a priority at the moment but I think I can cross it off the list now. Thanks so much for this article!

  • Wataru Watanabe

    So for someone who is considered self-employed like in Canada, do they send you an invoice? Or do you guys simply send a payment and they report it? I’m starting to work remotely so I was just wondering how that works…

    • Great one! Yes, local accounting rules almost always require contractors to issue invoices to their clients :)

  • Rodolphe, do you by any chance have any Dutch employees? I’d love to see how they’ve set that up, since it’s not allowed to work for only 1 client (3 minimum). Yes, weird rule.

    • Hey Tom! Pieter Leves (@levelsio) tweets about this sometimes – I think he stands around 50% :)

  • Kyrie

    Thanks for the continuous transparency and Tom’s handy payroll calculator. It’ll be a great asset for this ol’ Canadian nomad :)

    Keep being awesome!

    P.S – Courtney “our nomads might need a post of their own!” – please do one day, I’d love to hear more.

  • Tanya Jones

    Fantastic article, thank you for sharing!! For your Canadian team members operating as self-employed, I urge them to take the time to research allowable expenses. Many smaller self-employed Canadians (especially freelance or in the arts) don’t take advantage of the many expense deductions available to them to reduce taxes. I’m in Alberta, so some things may be different in the East, but most commonly overlooked is the business use of home (eg: if your house is 1000sq.ft and you setup a home office area of 100sq.ft., then you can claim 10% of all house related expenses – rent/mtge; all utilities; insurance; property taxes etc. Even certain food costs that would be acceptable for an “office” like a coffee allowance, snacks, bottled water etc plus toilet paper, certain amount of cleaning costs etc – these things may seem small but they can sure help). Another thing often over looked is medical expenses, any money spent on health care premiums (like AB Blue Cross) or prescriptions can be included as a deduction and will likely lower taxes. I use to do all my own tax returns and it is very good for seeing all the possible areas that you may have expenses that are claimable. If you have kids there are tons of deduction benefits too. Most Albertans, that I know, are paying more in taxes than is necessary. Might be worth looking into closer. :-)

  • Bryan Milne

    One of the most interesting Open Buffer posts I have read, many thanks Rodolphe & Courtney. (And those that openly shared their info)

  • Florian Schild

    What a cool article and as always so open and transparent. This is just great! Do you use certain tools like to issue payments? And how do you handle exchange courses? Really interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing!

  • frazras

    Are all your non-US employees hired as contractors? Do they sign up the W8-BEN form? If not, what is the arrangement?

    • Sylvain Gauchet

      Great question. I’d love to know as well.

    • @rodolphedutel:disqus I know that a year has passed, but it would be great to get an answer to this question :)

  • Ron Harnik

    This is very interesting, thanks for sharing this. I’m working for a distributed tech company as well, and I’m also registered as self-employed in my country (Israel). I was wondering if that’s the situation for other distributed employees.

  • Amanda Kendzior

    Great article, it was so interesting to read about everyones’ inputs around the world.

    Like Jos√©, I’m autonoma in Spain though I find it a bit of a killer system – not only are self-employed people looked down upon (can’t get a mortgage, no social help if you lose your job, etc), but social security payments are the same no matter how much you work (as opposed to, I believe, countries like the UK which base it on your earnings) so whether you work a few hours a week or full time, you still have to pay 270 euros a month.

    In the end it ends up pushing people to work without declaring…here’s hoping they catch on soon that freelancers are hardworking, tax-paying people too! ;)

    • jose

      I Amanda, I am also in Barcelona and just got a job offer for a remote position but I don’t know how much taxes I have to pay, so no idea on how much money to ask for to allow me to have the same lifestyle I have now. I couldn’t really understand Jose’s math around it. Would be awesome if you could help me, thanks.

      • Amanda Kendzior

        Hi Jose – Congrats on the job offer and sure! I just saw your message on Linkedin, so I’ll respond there.

  • This is really interesting because it’s something I’ve wondered about when I read about working for Buffer. This might be a whole separate blog post, if you’d be willing to share but how do the differences in workplace benefits works? I.e. American maternity leave differs to UK maternity leave.

    • I love this idea, Laura! Just added it to our Trello board for a future post!

  • wow, where do you get so much money to pay all these people so much!?

  • Stefan Malic

    Poor Ivana :( Her salary is way bigger than the average salary in Croatia, but Jesus, those taxes are WAY too big. Same thing in Bosnia though :/

  • I use TransferWise and I’m happy with it.

  • Stan Schroeder

    Great article, though I think the 12% city tax calculation in Ivana’s case might be wrong.

    Still, the tax burden on employees in Croatia is outlandishly high. Ivana, I feel your pain (;

  • Nicely written @rodolphedutel:disqus, i live in Germany and freelance for companies in Germany, Australia and the US and it’s great to see how other remote work systems operate.

  • @courtneyseiter:disqus @rodolphedutel:disqus Thank you so much for articles like this. I have a doubt and I hope that you can help me with it.

    Imagine that my company needs the assistance of a worker residing in USA under contract with another company (i’m from Spain). Could it be that this employee perform their collaboration (as if it were a freelance) keeping his contract? What costs would entail?

    Thank you so much!

  • @courtneyseiter:disqus @rodolphedutel:disqus I think one thing we need to keep in mind as that other countries have higher taxes but many have greater government benefits too. Like France has lower costs for medical and they give stipends to families with kids. So you actually get more out of your tax contribution than the U.S.

  • jacques

    My brother has an IT company in the UK. He is battling to find staff there
    and has the option to get people in SA to work remotely.

    Can you please give advice on the easiest and
    quickest solution to hire people in SA?

    How does he pay them ?

    What about PAYE ?

    Does it make a difference if they’re contractors or permanent

  • alex

    Super useful…. Thanks a ton for this article..

  • justanotherguy

    55% in Croatia is unbelievable lol.

  • Noel Taylor

    Hi Rudulphe – really interesting article. Did you also conduct a legal review or functional analysis of each position to determine whether local tax authorities consider your team to be employees of your organisation vs. contractors? We’re going through this now at Cadasta, at the “request” of one of our funding partners, and have found that we will need to re-classify some team members as employees instead of their existing contractor status. The impact is not insignificant, >10% in Ireland, and >25% in Spain as examples.

    Although the risk may be low, we’ve found that there is certainly potential tax liabilities and penalties associated with the incorrect classification of team members. Regardless of how carefully worded independent contractor agreements might be, it’s really the functional analysis of the position that determines what classification they should have.

    We also found that the level of responsibility and type of client interaction has a significant bearing on whether the organisation faces “permanent establishment” issues in each jurisdiction as well. This is what we’ve faced with me in Australia working as the CEO of a US registered 501c3. It’s cost about $10K to become properly registered with charity accreditation as a foreign entity operating in Australia.

    • Noel raises some good points and we have seen a number of companies have to change worker classifications during an event like a funding round.

      Full disclosure: as a service provider in this area I have a clear bias on this issue. But I’d like to add a couple of notes for anyone considering the independent contractor path for their remote international employees:

      It is important to look at employment law in addition to the tax regulations. The labour authorities have a strong interest in the correct classification of independent contractors vs employees. This also means that the exposure in a mis-classification case will encompass statutory employee rights like holiday pay, severance and unfair dismissal. As an example the Uber drivers who launched court cases claiming they are entitled to employee rights petitioned the California Labor Board in USA in California and the London Central Employment Tribunal in UK.

      In terms of the classification decision itself, whilst the rules vary by country and are often open to interpretation, there are two main principles that are pretty consistent: control (who directs the work) and the nature of the assignment (duration, scope, etc). Indefinite length assignments for one client are generally viewed as employment. Most authorities view a typical contractor/freelancer as working for multiple clients at once or undertaking a series of short term assignments.

      Lastly the fact that the “end client” is a foreign entity might reduce the risk of a problem and the ability of local authorities to enforce a decision, but it does not fundamentally alter the right of the worker to be treated as an employee or the obligation of the employer to do so. The workers rights are governed by the law of the country where the work is performed.

      • Thank you for you thought, Tim. I came to the same conclusion (being a German company with employees/contractors around the world). On the other hand to have employee in 50 countries as real employee would mean, to have 50 different employment agreements (adjusted to local low) and to be able to pay 50 pension and health insurance funds, and so on. I can’t imagine that a normal company can handle it. Are there any specialised consultancies out their (normal lawyer or tax consultants don’t know much about it)?

        • You’re right it requires a ton of localisation. I think there are 3 options for remote international employment:
          Independent Contractor
          Open a local entity (or potentially register a non-resident entity) in every country where you have employees
          Use a third party to employ the worker on your behalf. We call this GEO or Global Employment Organisation which is basically a riff on the American PEO concept. It is also known as an Employer of Record service.

          I view it as a continuum. In an ideal world we’d have remote staff employed directly by us all over the world. But this isn’t practical so we use a mix of all three:
          When we are using someone short term, or if it is lead by the worker and we’re ok with the legislation, then we’ll engage people as contractors. It is our least favourite option for the reasons I posted originally.
          Where there is a strategic benefit or the volume of employees justifies it then we’ll incorporate and employ directly (we’ve done that in Australia, Hong Kong and UK). Many companies find that there are particular countries that they like to hire in and so it can make sense to incorporate in those locations.
          Where we have small numbers of staff then we’ll use our partners to employ our staff for us. You could view this as wherever the overhead doesn’t justify incorporating e.g. at the moment we are delaying incorporating in USA due to the administrative overhead of 50 states worth of unique employment registrations and requirements.

          As a European company you should consider registering as a “non-resident employer” to be able to employ and make employer contributions in many European countries. I have heard of a number of European companies taking that approach but have no more context on it than that.
          The biggest problem is the one you alluded to, how to get good advice. If you have to engage an employment lawyer and a tax accountant and payroll support in every location… the administration is crazy. You can get comprehensive and very good advice on incorporation, tax and employment from the big 4 (PWC, EY, KPMG, Deloitte). But it is a big investment.

  • Hardik Vaidya

    The level of transparency you guys have is amazing. Great post.
    I’m wondering, in a distributed setup are your employees allowed to work with other companies (as in full-time or part-time) simultaneously?
    How does the leadership team ensure there is no information leaked out of the org? Say important docs or client info.

    I’m just curious how do you’ll manage such basics. Fascinating how you guys have been moving forward with this model. Inspiring!
    Thank you once again!

  • mariaseidman

    Thanks for the post. I realize it’s a bit old but just came across it. Curious whether you give these remote, self-employed team members stock options and if so how do you handle that?

    • Hi @mariaseidman:disqus! Appreciate you giving it a read. :) Here’s a post on how we handle stock options: I hope that helps answer the question? Let me know if not, maybe there’s another post in there. ;)

      • mariaseidman

        Thanks Hailley. But I was more wondering how you structure options when a large portion of your employees above are classified as self-employed. Do they have fixed terms on their contracts? How do you guys structure vesting? So I guess the topic is less about general option grants and helping employees understand them and more about your unique structure as a remote workforce and structuring contracts and options

        • IGotAnOffer

          @HailleyGriffis:disqus That’s a great question, 13 people upvoted it. Do you have any thoughts?

  • Malcolm Jae Woodbury

    Now sure if this question has been answered as of yet, but is it safe to assume that everyone is hired as contractors?

    • Hi @malcolmjaewoodbury:disqus! Great question. Since we are U.S. based, people in the U.S. are hired as employees and elsewhere in the world are hired as contractors, yes. :)

      • Malcolm Jae Woodbury

        So Buffer provides tax deductions for all US workers correct? Only asking because I am in a similar situation and I’m not sure how feasible something like this is.

        • Yes, even in different states. I’m not sure about that cost but maybe we can write about it in another post. :)

          • Sten Pittet

            Hi, just a follow up on this. Do you have specific ways of structuring work so that the contractors are not considered employees? I’m looking into this at the moment and it seems unclear.

  • Glenn McGrew II

    I’m very skilled at customer service and tech support, and I have other skills that mesh with that quite nicely, plus I’ve worked and lived overseas (15.5 years in Indonesia), so I have a broader perspective and I’m bi-lingual. I really want to apply with Buffer but I know your ATS will sort me out because one thing I’m NOT good at is resumes, especially fighting the darned ATSs. Any advice?

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