This post was written in collaboration with Taxes For Expats. We received partial tax preparation services in exchange for creating a review. As always, this review reflects our honest opinion on the service.
Travel bloggers and other remote workers tend to be risk takers. We’re ready to work hard and take on any challenge that life throws at us. But there’s one word that has us all running and hiding under our covers, TAXES. If you’re anything like me, taxes have been one of those scary parts of adulting that I can never quite get my head around.
Throw in confusing-as-hell rules for digital nomad taxes, less than perfect financial organization and a business/life partner from another country and it’s enough to make you wish you didn’t earn any money at all. But over the last couple of years our blog has become more and more successful (hooray!) and that means taxes are inevitable (boo!). Luckily, as the digital nomad trend grows, more companies are starting to address our unique needs. Taxes For Expats is one such company that’s working to make taxes easier for… well, expats!
US Digital Nomads and Taxes
US citizens are moving abroad at a growing rate, but the US also has one of the strictest tax residencies for their citizens. They’re not letting you get out of paying taxes just because you live in another country! This can make for some super confusing questions come tax season. And there are a lot of regulations and loopholes that standard tax professionals may not know about.
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Taxes for Expats focuses solely on working with US residents living abroad so they are 100% up on the changing lax laws for expats. They work with clients living in over 190 countries around the world. Their team of tax professionals know their stuff and can guide you through even the most confusing situations. We worked with Taxes For Expats on preparing our taxes for the 2017 financial year. Here’s what we thought about the experience.
Using Taxes For Expats
Before connecting you with your tax preparer, Taxes For Expats will ask you to fill out a tax questionnaire. This questionnaire will ask you all the standard stuff they’ll need to know to do your taxes for you, including your employment and income information, deductions and how long you spend in the US vs outside the US. The form is straightforward and easy to fill out online.
It can be a bit overwhelming to collect all that information, but I would recommend just filling it out to the best of your ability. If you have any questions, you can schedule a 30 minute introduction call and they will connect with a customer service team member, but in my experience the tax preparer they connect you with after the questionnaire will be much more knowledgeable than the person on the call. Chances are you’ll be going back and forth on email with your preparer with questions anyway, so I would recommend filling out the questionnaire to the best of your ability so you can get the process started.
After the questionnaire, your tax professional will look over your answers and assess what services you’ll need. They will then send you an electronic engagement letter with a list of recommended services and prices for each. They won’t start preparing your taxes until you’ve approved the total cost. This ensures you’re comfortable with how much you’ll be paying and there’s no surprises in the end. They have a list of their prices here so you can review before starting your questionnaire.
After you’ve approved the costs, you’ll sign the engagement letter and they’ll start preparing your tax return. The standard turn around time is 15 business days, so if you’re like us and wait until the last minute- keep this in mind! They do offer rushed services, but we found the whole process to be very speedy.
Taxes for Expats Review
From the questionnaire to the tax preparation, everything is done online, which I know will appeal to the digital nomads out there. If you’re old school and feel a little unsure about giving up all your info without even a phone call, rest assured that you’re in good hands with Taxes For Expats. They have a team of professionals that are all CPAs or enrolled agents and their work is double checked by at least two other team members. After they finish your tax return they e-file it for you (in some cases the IRS doesn’t accept e-filing, in which case you’ll have to mail it in.)
The whole process went smoothly for us and having them file our return was a huge weight off our shoulders. Our only frustration was that we were looking for a bit more guidance in tax strategies for our specific situation. The service is really a straightforward tax preparation service, rather than a tax advice service. Perhaps that’s due to the nature of being online vs in person.
Because our situation is so complicated, next year we’ll most likely find someone we can sit down with and really gain advice on the best way to approach our taxes. Our tax preparer was quick in responding to our questions via email (and we had a lot of them!). I found the communication to be professional, but to be honest, at times a little short and lacking the warmth an in person tax professional might provide. But when it comes to taxes, I value expertise over friendliness and she definitely knew her stuff. Overall, using Taxes for Expats definitely made our tax preparation much easier. Everything was handled in a timely manner and we even ended up getting a refund!
If you feel confident in your basic level of tax knowledge and prefer to have everything done online and via email, Taxes for Expats is a great option. Overall, we would recommend Taxes for Expats for US citizens living abroad and looking for a tax preparer who is knowledgeable about the in and outs of this area of taxes.