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ZUS ... what's the point?
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 235

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:16 am    Post subject: ZUS ... what's the point? Reply with quote

So here's my take on ZUS.

I've been paying it for years now and finally said - enough is enough haha... In my opinion, for native speakers especially, this is an absolute waste of resources. Especially after your initial two years is up.

Even if you're planning on retiring in Poland, you're much better off putting that money in a sock. Investing it in pretty much anything - property, stocks, bonds, gambling on horses... would secure your future... ZUS however, will not.

Even if you're running a sole proprietorship and have manged to secure some solid contracts, it's still absolutely not worth it. That's 1050PLN that you could be investing somewhere else. Now, if you actually got something out of it, such as benefits and a secured pension, then I'd reconsider. What you're putting your money into however, is a black hole that may or may not be there when you retire.

There are few other options available and more pop up each year. For anyone who owns property out west or has a family that could register a business for them there, I'd suggest to do just that. There's also the Estonian e-residence card which just happened to start this year. An option well worth your consideration.

I wonder what's your take on ZUS and what are some other options like the star up programs or business incubators et....
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1198
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I paid ZUS for 3.5 years as a sole proprietorship. There are 3 payments I made every month my company was operational. Figures are from April 2014, the last month I paid:

Labor Insurance (55zl): I guess this was supposed to cover you if you were ill for an extended period of time. However, I heard the amount you'd actually get was pitifully small. I never actually needed to use it, but didn't resent it too much, considering the relatively low price.

Health Insurance (270zl): Everyone needs health insurance, and this one is good to have if something serious happens. I made use of this a handful of times in Warsaw and had mixed experiences, almost all of them involving very long wait times. I guess it's better than nothing, but there are better private options available in this price range.

Social Insurance (662zl): This one's the real buggabear, the one Infinite's lamenting. My biggest gripe with this is that it's the same high amount regardless of how much you earn. I would sometimes shut my company down over the summer, winter break, etc. to avoid paying this. It's prorated, so if you shut down your company for half the month, you only pay half. Still, this is probably the biggest deterrent to those seeking to start up a company to teach English in Poland.

On the plus side, ZUS is basically halved the first 2 years your sole proprietorship is open. Enough time to decide if teaching English in Poland long term is right for you!
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 673

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My friend has just signed up for this - http://aip.org.pl/ - and has good reviews so far. They seem to be a lot more honest than the Twój Startup crowd, and there's the possibility of invoicing in different currencies.

With ZUS - you need to look at it from a historical point of view. ZUS has huge liabilities with pre-1990 contributions - they were in 'soft' złoty, so the numbers there are pretty much fictional estimates instead of being based on any sort of reality. No government had the guts to tell people that these contributions were effectively pure fiction in a monetary sense, so ZUS now has to use people's hard currency now to pay for their soft currency liabilities.

It's absolutely right that the minimum contributions are too high. But anyone considering registering a business abroad should be careful - ZUS has access to foreign social insurance institutions, and they've been really going after people in the last year or so for being self-employed in a different jurisdiction. If you're caught, they'll hammer you for all the back contributions - which could be a monumental bill. I've read reports of people having to pay back in excess of 100,000zł to ZUS, for instance.

But the system is also so dramatically unfair. I know one guy who owns a large factory and earns an astonishing amount - his monthly contributions? Same as the freelance English teacher. The Czechs seem to have a better system - minimum contributions of around 600zł a month for social insurance and healthcare, with it going up on a sliding scale. Anyone earning below a certain amount (I think it's around 3000zł a year) pays nothing in income tax.

Infinite, did you say in another thread that you were giving one of those incubators a shot? How is it working?
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 235

PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

delphian-domine wrote:

Infinite, did you say in another thread that you were giving one of those incubators a shot? How is it working?


Yes, so far so good. Truth be told I just started so nothing to complain about so far. I'll keep everyone here posted about this and how it's working out... or not. I have a good friend who's been doing it for some time now and he's very happy.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 629

PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate ZUS. I hate Old people. Ungrateful communists. Thinking about either makes my Blood pressure skyrocket.
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 235

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So a bit of an update. Things are looking good so far, the customer service is great, I had to deal with a small mistake in billing on my part and was able to take care of everything with a single call and a quick visit to the location at my convenience.

Also, I was hoping not to have to rely on ZUS or NFZ (national healthcare system) but as luck would have it, I did have an incident and had to spend over a week at an NFZ hospital. Surprisingly, it was a great experience. So... to sum it up. 60pln for ZUS for a four family plan and 250PLN for the StartUp. In total 310PLN +9% Income tax... That pretty much, at the very least, saves me between 20K to 30K per year.
Which is great, since I just singe up with an international program of online teaching and getting paid in $$$ (heeeeehawwww) and will have a nice chunk of change to put away each month. If you're paying for ZUS, that's 1120per month now.. full.... plus 19% income tax.... you do the math.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 629

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait... So which one are you using? My wife is trying Twoj Start up for teaching English they make you send them "course development" materials each month. You're not supposed to just copy the class log at whatever school you work for but are supposed to write a bunch of other garbage. She doesn't really do it and they threaten to not make the bank transfer if she doesn't but so far she has been getting her money from them.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1606
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:05 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

It's because it's a tax dodge. You are a teacher not a materials writer. It's Twoj StartUp. Teacher's don't pay 9%.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 629

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would love to only pay a few hundred for ZUS and 9% tax. I just don't see how it's possible to get away with it in the long run. As a foreigner I don't want to deal with ZUS or US problems in the future.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15322

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So why is anyone left teaching as a Native Speaker in Poland ?
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1606
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:38 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Work's easy if you have enough of it, beer is cheap but most of all, you end up with a girlfriend way out of your league Smile
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 629

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do alright for myself but have been here for a long time, speak the language have a master's degree and am married to someone who also makes a good living. Thus Poland is not so bad Smile
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1606
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:13 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

All Americans have a Masters. Does it get you a higher hourly rate?

Didn't think so.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 629

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm the last person to claim that the TEFL industry requires a master's or that you even need to invest in your own education to do this job. Certainly not in Poland. I was just making the point that I've been at it for a while and can make a decent living at it. The real skills you need to be successful here: Negotiating, lack of loyalty (if you find a better deal, take it), Squeeze what you can from people. Teaching, doesn't really matter if you're somewhat interesting and decent looking. You have to be able to prepare an ok lesson but unless you're really a misfit, it takes about a year to learn how to deal with Polish students to give them what they want.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1198
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sparks sounds pretty clued in.

As for a master's, it's definitely overkill for working in a language school, but a lot of Polish universities prefer or even require one. These offer mediocre pay, but good benefits (ZUS paid, paid leave) and a light workload.

If I return to Poland, my goal is to work in an international K-12 school. These require a teaching license from your native country and prefer you to have a master's, but offer excellent pay and full benefits.
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