US Taxation Abroad is in the business of counseling and advising US persons with respect to:
1. Bringing them into tax compliance
2. Keeping them in tax compliance
3. Assisting them in deciding whether to “expatriate” (renounce US citizenship) or whether to remain a US citizen
4. Assisting them with either:
A. Implementing the decision to expatriate; or
B. Assisting them with the kind of financial planning consistent with life as a resident outside of the United States.
We DO incorporate tax planning into our counseling.
We do NOT prepare US tax returns. If you are our client we will retain a competent and experienced accounting firm (that is suitable for your needs) to prepare your returns.
If you are NOT a client of US Taxation Abroad, then we refer you to (without recommending or endorsing) the following directory of US tax return preparers who specialize in returns for U.S. citizens abroad.
How To Select a U.S. Tax Return Preparer:
Paid tax preparers who do U.S. tax returns are now required to be registered with the IRS. Ask them for their PIN number as proof of registration. With the exception of Attorneys and US CPAs, tax preparers are required to fulfill continuing education requirements.
You have four options:
1. Attorney – Probably your most expensive option. If all you want is a tax return prepared, this is probably not your best bet. Very few attorneys are in the business of tax return preparation.
2. US CPA (Certified Public Accountant) – That’s what they do. They are experts at filling out forms, number crunching and knowing the latest IRS regulations. Expensive, but probably worth it if your life has any degree of complexity.
3. EA (Enrolled Agent) – This is a special kind of tax professional who is licensed by the IRS. They are neither attorneys nor CPAs, In general they are very good and in general they are less expensive than CPAs.
Attorneys, CPAs, and EAs can represent you before the IRS.
4. Registered Tax Preparer – This is somebody who has passed the IRS exams. They cannot represent you before the IRS.
My thoughts: As a U.S. person abroad, the stakes for you are high. I would work with someone in the Categories 1 – 3. Obviously, the more complex your situation, the stronger the case for the CPA. Whomever you work with, you should ask them for a list of questions they want answered – that will reveal the relevant information. The U.S. tax rules are so complex and so different from the rules in other countries, that you cannot possibly know or anticipate what facts matter and what facts don’t.
A final point to keep in mind!
Just when you things could not get more complicated, Canadian CAs are in the process of changing their designation to “CPA”. This means that a Canadian CPA is not the same as a US CPA.
In Canada “CPA” stands for: “Certified Professional Accountant”.
In the U.S. “CPA” stands for “Certified Public Accountant”