What is Taxes For Expats?
Taxes are due on April 15th for Americans but did you know that as an expat living abroad, you get an automatic extension until June 15? So if you’re freaking out because you’re late filing your taxes, it’s not too late to look for a qualified tax accountant like Taxes for Expats. (They also help you file back taxes).
Taxes For Expats, aka TFX, is a full-service tax firm which handles personal and business tax returns for American expats living abroad, back taxes, tax planning and IRS amnesty programs for American expats with delinquent taxes. They also offer a few other services such as reviewing your self-prepared expat tax return and help to file an amended tax return.
The company is based out of New York and was founded by Ines Zemelman, EA in 2007 (according to the BBB website) and has clients in 175 countries but Ines Zemelman has been preparing taxes since 1991.
All work is done remotely, by email and online through a client portal
Since Taxes for Expats is located in New York and I’m located in France, the entire process; communication, questions and exchange of documents with my assigned tax preparer was handled remotely- via email and the client dashboard portal which actually worked out better than I had hoped.
In fact, I preferred using my online tax dashboard over my previous accountant experiences because the client portal helps keep your information and documents centralized and organized. If you’ve ever worked with Basecamp or other project management and team communication software, you probably know what I’m talking about. With the online portal, you know exactly what documents to provide and you can keep track of what needs to get done each step of the way.
Steps: working with Taxes for Expats
1) Go to the site and sign up for an account: You’ll receive an email with instructions to create an account which gives you access to your very own secure tax portal. (see screenshot below)
2) Schedule a free 30-minute consultation: You may be asked to put down a 50 dollar retainer fee.
3) Tax questionnaire: Login to the client portal area and fill out the interactive tax questionnaire. If you have any questions or are not sure how to answer something, there is a faq section to help you or you can email your assigned tax preparer directly. The tax preparer assigned to us was very knowledgeable and responded within a few hours to our emails. She even helped us adjust our current years returns to correct mistakes from the previous year.
All the information you input into the questionnaire and documents you upload are saved and can be accessed for future tax years if need be.
4) Upload Supporting Tax Documents: At the end of the questionnaire, you’ll see a document checklist where you can begin uploading documents. Your assigned tax preparer will then see them in the portal and use them to complete your expatriate tax return.
5) Review and sign Engagement letter: Once you complete the questionnaire and upload all documents, simply wait for your assigned tax preparer to analyse your situation. Once she has finished analyzing your tax situation, she’ll draft an electronic engagement letter for you to review from within the portal.
The letter will show you the job scope and total cost to prepare your taxes. If all looks good, sign the engagement letter.
6) Wait up to 2 weeks for your tax return to be completed: (TFX does offer a rush service for a fee)
7) Pay for the service: You’ll be notified once your taxes are completed. Simply log in to your portal and you’ll see a link to your return but you won’t be able to download your tax return or see it in its entirety until you make a payment. (They accept all credit cards, PayPal, and wire transfers).
8) File your tax returns: After you’ve reviewed your completed tax return, you can choose to download it and mail it to the IRS yourself or you can have Taxes for Expats e-file for you. We chose the latter. If you do e-file and you owe money to the IRS, make sure you send a check directly to the IRS. Complete instructions to do this will be available in your client portal.
That’s it. The whole process.
Costwise, taxes for expats uses a transparent flat fee structure to prepare your USA expat taxes.
$350 If you earn under 100k per year and $450 if you earn over 100k per year. There are over 40 forms included in the flat fee option.
If you have a simple tax filing, you should be covered under the flat fee option, however, if you have a business or rental property, you’ll probably need some documents not included in the flat fee. In this case, you are charged per additional form.
Here are some examples of additional forms you might need to purchase.
- FBAR form: An additional $75.
- State tax return: An additional $100 per state return.
- Schedule C: An additional $100
Should you trust them
I don’t take taxes lightly. I’v’ personally used TFX and definitely trust them based on my experience.
Having said that, I was a little sceptical about hiring Taxes for Expats at first. Mainly because of the whole remote thing but as I mentioned earlier, the online portal actually makes it much easier to stay organized.
The second reason why I was a little hesitant to use TFX was because of a bad experience I had with another tax accountant who made quite a few errors on our tax return the previous year. In my defence, there was no way for me to have known how dissatisfied I would be because I only had the feedback of one person beforehand.
Taxes for expat, on the other hand, has hundreds of positive five-star reviews on trust pilot and shopper approved (two well-respected consumer review sites). If it weren’t for those reviews, I might not have actually used Taxes for expats.
There were some negative reviews which is to be expected but the ratio of positive reviews outweighed the negative reviews by a longshot.
Last but not least, if you care what the BBB (Better Business Bureau) has to say, they gave TFX an “A” rating.
Lastly, I liked the fact that every tax return prepared at TFX is checked by a second set of eyes (a quality control check by a CPA or EA (enrolled agent) along with a senior supervisor who double-checks their work.
Enrolled agent (or EA) is a tax advisor who is a federally authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Enrolled agents represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax issues including audits, collections and appeals.(source)
Will I use them again?
Yes, I probably will. US Taxes are complicated enough as it is but even more so if you’re an American expatriate living or working abroad. But working with qualified professional like the ones I encountered at TFX will not only save you time but also help you avoid costly mistakes. If nothing else, you won’t have to anguish or wonder if your taxes are prepared correctly. www.TaxesForExpats.com