I contacted about 100 accountants by email and received quotes from 18. Obviously, accounting can get very complex and this is just purely a price comparison, not an evaluation of the quality of the service. This is merely intended as a reference and starting point. It is certainly necessary to do your own thorough research.
With the disclaimer out of the way, here are the details of the comparison. The assumed business case is a limited liability company with no employees and only a few transactions per month. I asked for quotes for the legally required monthly and annual tax declarations as well as bookkeeping service. It was not always clear what exactly is included in the service, so these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. But I thought it was still an interesting & enlightening exercise. Just for fun, I also threw in some of the big accounting firms.
It seems setting up and running a limited liability company in Cambodia involves quite a bit of bureaucracy and does not come cheap. Barachina CPAs quoted a cost of about $1,200 just for the setup fees payable to the government. Besides, it appears that tax laws are vague and the tax officers have strong incentives to interpret them in ways, so as to increase tax revenue. For these reasons, and because they said a single-member private limited company was “unusual”, Barachina CPAs did not even want to consider taking me on as client. Brian from Covenant suggested that, in my case, it would be probably more advisable to set up a company in a low-tax jurisdiction and then bill clients through that entity. Clients will then have to deduct 14% withholding tax from your invoices. However, in the end, that will amount to less than all the various taxes owed by a LLC, plus it involves none of the red tape.
As for the fees the accountants charge, here is a rough summary (not including the big accounting firms):
Monthly tax declaration: avg $137/m ($70-$240)
Annual tax declaration: avg $295/y ($120-$550)
Monthly bookkeeping: avg $177/m ($100-$250)
What was a bit disappointing is how few responded to my inquiry. Out of about 100, only 24 bothered to get back to me. Quite a few emails were invalid, even though some of them were taken from the member list of the Kampuchea Institute of CPA and Auditors dated December 2015 (you can access the list here). Below is the list of all accounting firms that came back to me with an answer (not necessarily a quote, tough). If anyone wants to see the actual quoted prices, they can leave their contact info in the comments, and I will send it to them.
Everyone is probably familiar with Wing. But there are another five providers offering the same cash transfer service. We tried them all out.
Finding an agent
First, Wing charges a premium, but it’s worth the money. While most providers have a lot of locations, you might have to try two or three before you can find one that actually serves you. One problem is that some agents no longer offer the service, but don’t bother to remove the sign. The online directories on the provider websites aren’t really up to date either. Another issue we encountered is that, at some agents, they didn’t know how to operate the machine. And finally, not all agents have what I would consider consumer-friendly opening hours, ie they’re closed on weekends. Only Wing and AMK seemed to be easy to find and also have competent staff.
We contacted all agents through Facebook to ask some questions (except Wing, because there was nothing to ask). They were generally very responsive, except for True Money, which took several days to respond. But when we had follow-up questions, they all of a sudden were much quicker to reply. AMK also replies to emails, True Money doesn’t. We didn’t try emailing the other providers.
Actually transferring money
As for the actual service procedure, it’s very much the same for all the providers. We compared the case where neither the sender nor the receiver have accounts. If either the sender or both the sender and receiver have accounts, the fees will be different (and you can use apps instead of going to the agent). Below is an overview of the number of locations and fees. The location numbers are just approximations. For the fees, we assumed three cases, ie. sending $20, $100 or $1000. Detailed fee tables are available online, except for Asia Wei Luy, where we had to inquire.
||Detailed fee table
|Asia Wei Luy
||<=$50:$0.5, <=$500:$1, >$500:$2
For convenience, here’s the same table as an image