Completing and filing your taxes is complicated, particularly for business owners and managers. But if you do business with foreign entities or in foreign countries, tax preparation can be particularly challenging. Mistakes can be extremely costly, sometimes resulting in audits, penalties and/or liens. These consequences can be devastating to a company, regardless of its size. So it makes sense to take every precaution possible when preparing to file your taxes, and a crucial element of that preparation is securing the services of a professional, qualified translator.

When considering what to look for in a translator for your business, start with one assumption: machine translation is not adequate for any type of business documentation, but especially not for those related to taxes. Machine translation (such as Google Translates or any of the other myriad of automated translation programs available) may be adequate for personal correspondence, for example, but when it comes to anything related to your business, you should always choose a human translator – one with many years of experience and preferably one who is also familiar with your industry. The reason is simple: machine translations are not capable of interpreting context, word/phrase usage, and jargon that is specific to your industry. These programs produce only literal translations of words, and that often results in misinterpretation and poor translations.

Here are some of the skills and abilities you should look for in a qualified human translator:

  • Total fluency in the target language(s) – A native speaker is always preferable.
  • Experience – Look for a linguist with experience in providing translations of documents for tax purposes.
  • Trustworthiness – Your translator must understand the importance of confidentiality with regard to your tax filings, and must be trustworthy beyond a shadow of a doubt. Translators with experience in finances, law and/or the medical field, for example, are well aware of the importance of confidentiality and the handling of sensitive data, so finding a linguist with background in one or more of these arenas would be helpful.
  • Knowledge of laws related to taxes and finance — Your translator should be familiar with the tax and finance laws not only of the US, but of the other countries with which you do business as well.
  • Experience in translating of specific tax-related documents – Ask the linguist which specific types of documents he/she has experience in translating, such as:
    • Audit documents
    • Tax legislation
    • Tax audits
    • Corporate controlling
    • Inspection reports
    • Due diligence reports
    • Double taxation agreements
    • Audit RFPs
    • Corporate accounting guidelines
    • Risk reports
  • Proven track record in meeting deadlines – It almost goes without saying that when it comes to translating tax documents, time is of the essence. Look for a translator with a significant amount of experience and success in meeting tight deadlines.

If you’re starting to think that finding a qualified linguist with all this experience is next to impossible, we have good news: a reputable translation company can find language professionals with the exact experience, skills, and abilities you and your business need. The first step is to contact the translation company of your choice, explain what you’re looking for in a linguist, and let the language professionals take it from there. They will match up your needs with the right translator – one with the specific expertise required to produce high quality translation services within the timeframe needed.

Taxes can be complicated, especially for a company doing business with foreign entities or inside other countries, so don’t trust that tax preparation to just anyone – and certainly not to the inadequate results produced by a machine translation. Instead, put your trust in a reputable translation company.