“One difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” –Anonymous
So this week marked the due date for 2020 US tax filing for those living Stateside. Taxes – everyone loves talking about taxes, right? One of my first jobs out of college was working for the Internal Revenue Service as a Customer Service Representative so I’ve had my fair share of conversations about taxes. It’s one of those things that can easily frustrate us or make us happy (did you say tax return?).
For those US citizens that are currently living abroad, the filing due date is next month. If you are similar to me, I use that date to file an extension which usually gives additional time. However this year was just a little bit different in such a good way. I actually sent my taxes in before the due date. What a fantastic feeling!!!!
I haven’t always been this organized and to be honest, this year I had help.
After ignoring the issue of taxes whilst living abroad, I had to turn to the professionals. I had been living abroad for a few years, I had a rental property stateside, and my husband is British. Whenever I did one of those online quizzes if I am required to file, the answer that always popped up was that I was not required to file but that just didn’t seem right.
It turns out that I did, and now it was counted as back taxes (look here to understand what that is).
So in the Spring of 2019, I had my tax returns done by tax professionals. I took advantage of the Streamline Procedure which allows Americans overseas to file their returns without penalty if they meet the non-resident requirement. I did all the FBAR forms necessary. FBAR is often a term you will hear expats talking about if they are discussing their taxes. I heard people mention it but I didn’t really understand it. FBAR is Foreign Bank Account Reporting. As Americans we need to report our income in foreign banks, accounts, holdings, etc to the US government – you may not be required to pay tax on it but you do have to report it. This is done on FinCEN Form 114. This is submitted with your 1040 tax return. Without getting into all of the particulars, it can be overwhelming.
You don’t have to stress. You can get someone to take that burden off of your shoulder and leave it to the professionals. It is still initially overwhelming but with an awesome tax professional by your side, it just feels better for you.
So the professionals did my tax return in 2019 but then I got cocky and did them myself in 2020. Hey – I used to work for the IRS once upon a time. I did it online through an online tax service. It was easy enough but I still felt the need to converse with someone to make sure it was done correctly. There was none of that. No feedback. No interaction. I need interaction.
Income tax is the hardest thing in the world to understand” Albert Einstein
I went back to professionals in 2021 and let me tell you – it’s so worth it to have it done by people who are doing expat taxes all day, every day. Going from Pros to DIY to Pros really let me experience what you get with that professional tax service. I don’t think I will ever go back to doing my taxes on my own.
What you are really paying for? Your Sanity. To be honest, my taxes are pretty straightforward but it is so good to have another set of eyes on those forms. I like knowing that a professional is looking at my information before it get sent in to the IRS. The year I did it on my own, I received one letter from the IRS. My heart skipped a beat and I just felt a pit in the middle of my stomach. Surely they were writing to tell me I did it wrong. Thankfully that was not the case. It was a letter only to say that they received my tax return.
So this year back to the professionals and let me tell you – I am in love. Love, yes. Love. This year I worked with TaxesforExpats.com. It was super easy, very efficient and they totally kept me on track to get everything done in a timely manner – hence my early submission this year.
I want to walk you through my experience with TaxesforExpats.com for those that have not worked with Expat Tax Preparers online before. I just want to add that it is a woman owned company, so that got my attention. When I saw that the founder and I shared a name then I knew it was fate.
From the start I felt in the loop with what was going on.
You will have to log into the Taxes for Expats system to create an account. After this you will complete a tax questionnaire. This can be a little bit tedious but it doesn’t take long. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. If you do find that you really don’t want to complete questionnaire in one sitting, you can save your work and return back to it the next day.
Once you complete the tax questionnaire as part of the on boarding process, you receive an Engagement letter which lets you know what needs to be filed and how much it is going to cost. Once you make your payment, they can get started on your taxes.
The process is super smooth. I was assigned a CPA who reviewed my tax questionnaire. All through the platform we were able to discuss any questions, or additional forms needed. Everything tax related is handled through the Taxes For Expats platform. It is such an easy process.
The best thing – the absolute best thing for me about having Taxes for Expats do the taxes is that it reduced so much stress. The is a big bonus for your health. I know this because I carried the weight of “I need to sort out my taxes” for years as an expat. Staying on top of it just makes life so much easier. I also want to mention that is it not about just handing everything over to the pros. You remain part of the process as you are the one responsible for what is being reported. I left the experience feeling much more educated and confident with regards to my taxes.
Have I mentioned I was able to submit my taxes much earlier than I have ever done before? If you haven’t sorted out your taxes, I highly recommend you check out Taxes for Expats.