Taxes for Expats

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One of the most stressful and complicated aspects of moving abroad is taxes. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that taxes you on any income you earn while living in another country. This “double taxation” means that I’m taxed by the U.S. government and taxed by the German government on the very same income. It’s the worst. I’ve been dreading dealing with my 2017 taxes all year.

Then, one day, I received a message on Facebook from a woman, Lusine, who works for a company in New York called Taxes for Expats. I’m not quite sure how she found me, but I’m so glad she did. She offered me a discounted rate to prepare my returns for the IRS. (Of course, I will still need to figure out how to file here in Germany, but my hope is that my completed IRS returns will be helpful to a German accountant.)

I started by simply checking out their website. I really appreciate that they are a women-owned operation and all of the client reviews I read were very positive so I decided to give it a shot. They’re really straight forward with their pricing. The federal return is $350 and the state return is $100. I also needed an additional form because I am self-employed, which was $100.

The first step in the process was to register on their website and complete the online Tax Questionnaire (TQ). To be honest, the questionnaire is a BEAST. It took me a long time to complete. And I ran into a few bugs. For example, I couldn’t enter a decimal point and a fraction of a dollar (cents) so I had to enter whole numbers only, which is obviously not sufficient for the IRS. Instead, I had to add a comment to each place that I entered a number so that I could enter it correctly. It was redundant.

Also, I had a phone call scheduled with someone (perhaps from their IT department?) who told me he would walk me through the TQ and answer any questions I may have. We had an appointment set, but he never called. He later followed up by email to explain that they were switching over something on their end and our appointment got lost in the shuffle. He was really apologetic and offered to reschedule, but by that time I had completed the TQ.

Needless to say, I didn’t love the TQ. In my case, I think it would have been easier to just send my information via email. And, I did. I was assigned to my own tax preparer, Susan, and I sent her all of my information by email as well because I didn’t feel so confident that the TQ really captured everything in the right way. It’s seemed much too complicated for my personal tax situation, which is really just a mortgage interest statement, rental income, self-employment income, and expenses.

Susan and Lusine were both super helpful throughout the process and regularly reached out to me by email with questions and to make sure that all was going well. I felt really comfortable knowing that I had experts preparing my returns. It’s not cheap, but I think it’s worth it to know things have been done right.

Overall, there were a couple of hiccups along the way, but I had a very nice experience with Susan and Lusine and I feel confident that my  taxes were prepared correctly. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I paid just a fraction of the cost for this service. 🙂

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free or discounted product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by the developing company, and/or its affiliates, in any way. 

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