You’re sitting in a busy airport terminal waiting for your flight to board. People are rushing by with suitcases and the smell of coffee wafts from a nearby stand. Maybe you’re doing a little light work on your laptop or just catching up on the news when suddenly you realize…
It’s APRIL and you haven’t even started on your U.S. taxes.
Wait. Do you even need to do your taxes? After all, you’ve been working while travelling this year and you’ve barely even been back to the U.S.
A quick Google search provides you with the answer: Americans, even Americans living abroad or travelling, are required to file U.S. taxes. Your heart sinks as you think about your options. Where are you going to find an account? Especially one who handles American taxes? Could you do your taxes yourself? Because you’ve been travelling so much this year you’re not even sure what to list as your address. Could you call your old accountant in the U.S. and ask some questions? Can you even call the U.S.? Which SIM card do you have in your phone? Do you even have international calling? What time is it in the U.S. right now anyway?
Your mind is whirling. There’s so much to do and you have no idea where to start. There’s no accountant around to ask and you don’t even have access to a printer. It’s just you and your computer in the middle of a busy airport. You’re completely stuck, right?
Luckily for you, there’s a happy ending to this story if you just know where to look.
In desperation, you open your browser and quickly Google “American expat taxes help.”
A site pops up called Taxes For Expats. Their homepage says that you can “Get started on your taxes in 30 seconds” and you notice that they list an American phone number, a phone number for your current country, and an option to call them online for free. It’s nice to know that you have the option to talk to someone and ask questions. You feel a tiny bit better, but you’re still hesitant. How do you know that you can trust this service? After all, when you hire someone to prepare your taxes, you’re entrusting them with all your personal and financial information. You want to be sure you’re working with someone you can trust.
The more you click around their website, the better you feel. You learn that Taxes For Expats was founded by a tax expert who specializes in international tax issues and that they focus solely on helping expats living overseas to file their U.S. taxes remotely. It seems like they’ve seen it all before and will be able to answer even your trickiest questions.
You’re impressed to learn that they work with clients in over 190 countries around the world but even more impressed when you start reading testimonials from former clients. There are tons of reviews and ratings from independent sites and even video testimonials. Many of their clients say they’ve been using TFX to file their taxes for several years and others explain how TFX helped them file back taxes or deal with especially tricky tax situations.
The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and when you read about their process in the “How We Work” section, it’s easy to see why. The filing process that Taxes For Expats uses seems even easier than working with a regular accountant. The whole process can be done entirely online. No need for a printer, a scanner, or, God forbid, a fax machine.
The process starts with a 330-minute consultation by phone, and a quick glance at your watch tells you that you’ll have time to squeeze in a consult before boarding your plane. Then, you’ll fill out an interactive tax questionnaire online to let them know about your tax situation. If you have any tax documents you need to share, they can be uploaded directly to your TFX account.
Once you’ve completed those steps it looks like the bulk of the work is done on your end. TFX will the review your information and send you an electronic letter of engagement to sign before beginning to prepare your taxes to let you know exactly what they’ll be doing and how much it will cost. You’ll also get to review your return and sign off on their work before TFX e-files your return for you. It couldn’t be more transparent and aboveboard.
It certainly looks easy. You could even get started right away! But you’re a little worried about how much a service like this could cost. You’ve worked with accountants before and you know that your bill can often end up larger than you expect.
Which is why you’re relieved when you take a look at TFX’s pricing page. They offer flat fees for their services and tell you exactly how much any additional forms will cost. After spending a few minutes comparing their prices to their competitors’, you realize that their prices are very reasonable.
Lastly, you do a little research to make sure that they’re a legitimate company who knows how to handle sensitive information correctly. What you find puts your mind at ease. Not only is Taxes for Expats accredited by the Better Business Bureau and authorized by the IRS to represent clients, they transmit and store all your important documents themselves (without relying on third-party services like Sharefile or Dropsend), encrypt all their communications, and never share client information with third parties.
When you’re finished reading through the info on their website and doing research, you realize that you now know a lot more about filing taxes as an expat than you did before and you feel comfortable about the idea of working with TFX to file your taxes. You make an account online and schedule your 30 minute consultation right away. After a pleasant half hour spent chatting about your tax situation, you’re boarding your plane with a feeling of relief. When you arrive, you’ll set aside a couple of hours to complete the tax questionnaire online and then Taxes For Expats will take care of the rest. In the space of an hour, you’ve gone from having no idea how to tackle your U.S. taxes to having them partway done!
So what’s the moral of this story?
The next time you realize that tax time is coming up fast, don’t stress. Check out the TFX website to see how they can help you, wherever you are in the world.