If you are an American expatriate outside of the US, you must file your taxes every year. The process may seem very overwhelming at first, but there’s good news! First, you don’t have to do it alone.
Many tax preparers stateside specialize in helping expats like yourself with their tax returns. But how can you select the best tax preparer? Here are some tips on finding the right one for you and your family.
What to consider when looking for a tax preparer
As an expatriate, finding the right tax preparer can be difficult. As you look for a reliable tax preparer or tax preparation service, here are some considerations worth making.
Choose a tax preparer who uses the e-file system
If you are overseas, sending paperwork back and forth can be tough. Ideally, your tax preparer should allow you to email or upload your scanned documents that they need for tax preparation. If you are used to filing electronically, be sure to ask your tax preparer if they do the same. Filing electronically will ensure a faster, seamless process.
Make sure the company you choose can represent you in an IRS audit
Getting flagged for an audit is not ideal, but in instances where it happens, you want to ensure that you are working with an individual or firm that can walk you through the process.
Confirm their availability
Your tax preparer should be someone who has the availability to handle your tax situation. Avoid last-minute rushes or near misfiling of a return by ensuring they can file your returns promptly.
Review cost versus benefits
While the cost of filing may be a concern for many, consider looking for a tax preparer that will get your taxes done cost-effectively. This also includes working with a tax professional who exercises strong communication skills, advises you on how they prepared your return and ensures your filing is completed on time. Don’t go for the cheap option; also consider value and benefits.
Another way to find a reliable and knowledgeable preparer is to ask these questions before hiring them.
Ask: Are you an enrolled agent?
The company you choose should have experts or agents enrolled to file taxes on your behalf each IRS filing season. According to the IRS, an enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns or through experience as a former IRS employee.
Ask: Do you have a tax identification pin?
A federal tax preparer must have a PTIN. The IRS requires that anyone who assists in preparing federal tax returns have a preparer’s tax identification number. The PTIN must always show clearly on your return.
Ask: What is your tax background?
It’s essential to find a tax preparer with international experience. Make sure you confirm the expertise and knowledge of the firm before hiring them so that there are prepared accurately and with your best interest in mind.
Ask: Who will be working on my returns? Do I get assigned a particular person in the firm?
If you are new to working with someone to complete your expat return, find out who will handle your file. Once you determine who will be preparing your tax return, you might consider asking more questions to ensure this person matches your needs.
Ask: Will you help if the IRS has questions about my return?
When you entrust your taxes to a good tax accounting firm, they should stand 100% behind the return in case of an audit.
Ask: Is my data secure?
Expats are always on the move. The firm you choose should accommodate and provide a safe encrypted means of sending secure information.
If you are an expat living abroad, these tips will help you find the right expat tax preparer. Have you found a great tax preparer yet? Let us know! We have experts on hand ready to guide you through filing your expat tax returns as per IRS regulations.