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I'm developer from Russia and I recently passed Steam Greenlight.

Now I'm stuck on the Valve program enrollment phase. From what I've seen in the Valve forms, it is not necessary to create a company, such as LLC, there is 'Sole proprietor' option here. So I decided to choose this.

The questions were easy, but then I bumped into two stoppers: information about my bank account and information related to taxes.

As for taxes, I think I understand what to do. I need to apply for EIN in IRS and then fill the form W-8BEN.

But bank account is the different beast. I cannot decide, which type of bank account to use. Will it be suffice to create simple bank account, like this you use in your everyday life? In which currency this account should be? In Russian roubles or in US dollars? Roubles are preferable to me, but it's not a problem to create USD bank account. I simply cannot decide which is better.

It will be great if some non-US (and maybe US too :) ) indie dev shared some knowledge about this. Again, my most important questions:

1) Are you using the 'Sole proprietor' option without creating any form of company? Is this indeed legal and acceptable?

2) Can you use ordinary bank account for the purpose of receiving payments from Valve? If yes, in which currency is this account of yours?

Please answer only if you are absolutely sure about it, e.g. you already using this scheme and received at least one payment from Valve.

Thanks in advance!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe this question is more appropriate for Money.SE? \$\endgroup\$ – Soapy Jun 23 '15 at 9:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, thanks for pointing this out! I posted it there as well (money.stackexchange.com/questions/49206/…). But I'll leave this question here as well, because the most important thing from me is to hear from other devs who tried this scheme. \$\endgroup\$ – Anton P. Kolosov Jun 23 '15 at 10:08
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I am based in Japan, and I registered on Valve as a sole proprietor, with a secondary personal bank account (to keep the numbers separated), and with the default tax settings. I have not ran into any problems yet, but I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice either in Japan, and much less in Russia. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE

To be honest with you, I don't know what you're going on about:

Is "Sole proprietor" legal? I am not qualified to answer this question. Ask a lawyer in your jurisdiction

Is "Sole proprietor" acceptable? If Valve lists it as an option, then I guess it's acceptable for them. I don't understand why they would provide such an option and not accept people who use it, but you should ask Valve instead

Can I use ordinary bank account? I don't know, ask your bank. You will need routing information, like bank name, account nummber, SWIFT code and so on. Double check what Valve asks you, and ask your bank if they can provide this information

What currency should I use? Supposing both options (USD and RUB) are available to you, you can legally use either, and you can provide routing information for either, then I guess that boils down to personal preference. What makes more sense for your needs? You may also want to ask your bank and a lawyer what is better for you

As you can see, none of the questions you asked can be answered by game developers. Ask Valve, ask a lawyer, ask your bank.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ thanks for your answer. This is exactly the type of answer I was looking for. Yeah, I understand that such type of questions are answered better with lawyers and banks, but I wanted to hear from the fellow game developer who tried to work this way. Of course, I already was in the bank and then I go to the lawyer. Unfortunately, nor the bank employee, nor the lawyer were not able to help me. The bank employee even refuses to give me proper credentials for my bank account (they give me account credentials in russian, and the Valve's bank partner GlobalPay supports only credentials in english). \$\endgroup\$ – Anton P. Kolosov Jun 23 '15 at 11:18
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First, to get money legaly in Russia, you should registrate yourself as an Individual Entrepreneur. Under this procedure you will choose a Tax option and create a specific bank account. After this you close all your questions. And for currency - you can choose currency for your bank account, and if you choose roubles, income money will be changed to roubles by the course of the bank at the day of income. You should choose bank wisely if you are going to get income from foreign countries. It's better to consult with the lawyer (business consultant or financial consultant) from your city about this (please, be aware, lawyers (etc.) are just humans, and have different experience in each category of a field).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, Individual Entrepreneur is an option. But, on the other hand, see comment from @Panda Pajama above. If it is illegal to register as Sole proprietor, why Valve offers this option at all? This question (to register or not to register Individual Entrepreneur if your business is game development) is discussed on a variety of Russian sites (there is even opinion, which is approved by some lawyers, that game developer is like writer, not businessman). I wanted to know opinion of other game developers on this subject, ESPECIALLY those, who work as Sole proprietor. \$\endgroup\$ – Anton P. Kolosov Jun 23 '15 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anton: As I understand, sole proprietor is not a type of company. Sole proprietorship is the formal name of doing business as yourself, and as wikipedia says, "there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business". I don't know how it works in Russia, but as I know, usually you don't have to register or do anything in particular to be a sole proprietor. A sole proprietorship is exactly the same, just a different name from doing business as yourself (THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE) \$\endgroup\$ – Panda Pajama Jun 23 '15 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for providing this wikipedia link. Unfortunately for us Russians, it seems that Sole proprietor is actually Individual Entrepreneur (this means that you must register your business). This wikipedia article states, that in some countries you shouldn't register anywhere your activities as Sole proprietor, but, alas, in Russia you must do this. I'll try to investigate this myself and post here the results of my investigation... \$\endgroup\$ – Anton P. Kolosov Jun 24 '15 at 22:08

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