Off the Books

Off the Books with Juan Battilana

You emigrated from Argentina to Canada in 2010.  What prompted the move?

I grew up in a beautiful town called Choele Choel in south Argentina.  My wife is Toronto-born, and we met when she was on a student exchange in Argentina in my town.  After completing her degree, she moved back to Argentina for about seven years and then we made the decision to move to Canada.

What is the difference between accounting in Argentina versus Canada?

The accounting part is not much different.  Accounting is accounting pretty much everywhere, but the tax part is a lot more complex in Argentina.  It’s not that you are taxed more, but you definitely are taxed differently.  In Argentina there is no personal income tax and you don’t have to file taxes every year. Your employer makes the deductions and files on your behalf.

What types of accounting jobs did you have in Argentina?

I worked in a Chartered Accounting (CA) firm and then also on the client side of the profession as a bookkeeper for a medical company in my city.  At that time I was working on my degree so I didn’t want to travel.

What were some of the biggest things that you had to get used to when you moved to Canada?

Although there are many differences between North America and South America, there are also many similarities.  When I first arrived, I didn’t know any English, so language was the main barrier for me.  And just learning all of the accounting rules was a big hurdle.  It was difficult because on top of working, I had to study the language.  Although it was hard, it really helped me grow as a professional.

What kind of advice would you give to a business owner who is considering doing business in Argentina? 

That’s a hard question because it really depends on what industry your business is in and specifically where you’re planning on doing business.  In Canada, the tax rules are the same throughout the country but that is not true in Argentina. Also, the way you approach starting a business is different and much more expensive there.  The first thing you would do here is not the first thing you would do there.  Here, the most common – and easiest — thing is to set up a corporation to start a business.  You can set up a corporation for $700 in Canada.  In Argentina, it would be the equivalent to $10,000 and you need a partners to do it. An individual cannot hold a corporation in Argentina.

I would advise anyone interested in doing business in any foreign country to consult a professional accountant familiar with the business and tax laws of that country before anything else. They can help with the structure of the company, with registering with the government and making sure you operate in compliance with labour laws.

What is the biggest difference in being in business in Canada versus in Argentina?

I would have to say labour.  The unions are very strong there so there are a lot more issues related to labour. Almost every company is unionized, even smaller businesses.  Unions are much more prevalent in every industry.  Even in retail stores, accounting firms, or advertising agencies, the employees are unionized and the company pays the union dues.  If there are any labour issues, the union will be involved.  It is completely different than what we have in Canada.

As we near the end of 2015, what kind of advice do you have for your clients for year-end planning and getting set up for success in 2016?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to plan ahead.  It’s not helpful to begin planning six or nine months into a year.  You have to set assumptions and expectations for the company’s future.  We need to not only look at and plan for the upcoming year, but also for coming years based on those assumptions and expectations.

Whether you are planning for next year’s budget or to make future changes in the company, critical analysis and planning with your accountant is very important.  For example, if you have a mature company looking to expand or even one that’s just starting out, we can help you plan for that future growth, including looking at working capital and cash flow.

On a personal note, what do you miss the most from back home?

My town and the relationship with the people there are what I miss most.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the town, no matter what store you enter, everyone knows everybody.  They know you and your family.  You are a part of something.  I am going for a visit at the end of the year and I am looking forward to that visit.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Toronto?

One of my favorite things about Toronto is the safety and tranquility of the city compared to some of the big cities I lived in in Argentina.  The security here is really valuable.  I love the small town living, but when comparing big cities, I really like it here.  Oh, and the food here is very good too!

Juan Battilana is a Staff Accountant at Sloan Partners and recently earned his CPA CMA designation.You can contact Juan at

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