American Expat Taxes (and the best way to file them)

I’ve been telling my children for years that they are not American. (I have to remind them frequently that they’re not actually Korean, though they think they are).

“You are citizens of the world,” I say. My oldest, 7, has already learned to roll his eyes. I continue to remind him anyway.

However, every year around mid-March I’m reminded via social media and emails that I am, in fact, American and that taxes are due no matter what kind of citizen of the world I think I am.

I’ve spent the last decade living abroad here in Korea with my family and most of those years I’ve done my own taxes. I read up on what I needed to do and got it done. Foreign-earned income exclusion, etc. I know about it. I’m on top of it.

For the record, I work remotely as a contract worker for a US company. My husband works in Korea for a Korean university.

This year, when I was contacted by Taxes for Expats, I jumped at the opportunity to have a professional do it for me. Especially one so versed in expat laws. I knew it’d be great to have someone check what I’ve been doing for years.

Well. Turns out I’d been doing A LOT wrong! There were some basic tax issues that I was getting wrong every year, like self-employment tax because I’m a contractor. Roth IRA contributions that get penalized because I’m living abroad. It was head-spinning the amount I didn’t know or got wrong.

“This is extremely common, not only amongst regular people self-preparing, but even amongst experienced CPAs,” said Brian Levine, from Taxes for Expats.

“It’s kind of like going to a cardiologist with a foot problem — they may be really smart, but it’s a completely different competency. We hire less than 10% of applicants (all CPAs/EAs) for our staff.”

Why you should use an expat tax expert

Because you don’t want to have to pay thousands of dollars in arrears if the IRS ever audits you. That would be major buzzkill.

Because it saves you tons of time and stress. All I had to do in this process was fill out an application with all my info (30 minutes) and upload any tax forms I had (30 minutes to gather them all from various sources online).

My accountant was knowledgeable and fast, easily answering every question I had along the way with the patience of a saint. She offered great advice on where I could save money (expenses!) and how I needed to change the way I do it for next year (scheduled voucher payments) to avoid a large payment next April.

What an expat accountant can do for you

I highly recommend Taxes for Expats. A woman-owned, highly rated firm. Here’s what they can do:

  • CHECK YOUR SELF PREPARED RETURNS FOR ACCURACY/COMPLIANCE
  • PERFORM TAX PROJECTIONS
  • FILE AMENDED TAX RETURNS TO GET YOU A REFUND
  • BRING INTO US TAX COMPLIANCE VIA THE STREAMLINED PROCEDURE
  • KEEP YOU UPDATED OF IMPORTANT US TAX DEVELOPMENTS AND DEADLINES

Get Started by visiting their site

 

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