The process of filing taxes usually sucks. Sorry to be so blunt, but come on, it’s so complicated and time-consuming. On top of that, filing U.S. taxes from abroad is double the work! Finding an expat tax service is a must for anyone that isn’t straight-forward. And who is these days?
Yep. Here we go…talking about what we don’t want to think about. I wouldn’t make a good expat life blogger if I didn’t talk about the crappy parts of living abroad too. I can talk about how much I love living in Amsterdam but I will also tell you about the anxieties that I’ve experienced.
In 2017, I was given access to the Taxes For Expats service in exchange for a review, then we’ve continued to use (and pay for the service) since then and this has been updated after filing in 2020. All opinions are my own and not influenced by the company. I am not a tax professional. Everything I write is of my personal experience and research as of this writing. Do your own research!
This post contains affiliate links, which gives me a small commission at no extra cost for you.
Did you know that Americans abroad have to file taxes unless they live in a country that forbids it? We lived in Virginia (the only state I ever lived in until I moved to Amsterdam!) and in that Commonwealth, they never let you leave (or unregister). So we have to file state taxes every year–forever! I’m not even sure how it’s possible that they don’t let you leave, but that’s the way it is.
How to file taxes abroad
We used TurboTax for a couple years because our situation was fairly straight-forward, but they nickel and dime you which is just annoying. You never really know if you did everything right! It always made me very nervous and was terrified of an audit.
Taxes For Expats got in touch and wanted to see if I wanted to give them a try. We jumped at the chance because, why wouldn’t you when you know it’s a professional taking care of it? As you know, we bought a house in 2017, and that one thing makes things a little bit more complicated. We really wanted someone who knew what they were doing to handle the taxes for peace of mind.
What we liked about Taxes for Expats
The questionnaire is probably as simple as it can be, considering, you know, it’s taxes. I suggest to log in as soon as you get an account and see which documents you will need to fill out the form. That will make the whole process easier and much faster than it took us! Lesson learned for next time.
In 2020, Taxes For Expats reached out and asked us to do another post since it had been updated. I didn’t take the up on the offer of doing our taxes for free again, because it didn’t make sense. I’ve already created this post that I’m updating now, just because I want to share more of the experience we’ve had that I think you should know about. They mentioned they had new features…but the process was very much the same. But let’s get into what you want to know…
The biggest reason I like this service is knowing our taxes are done right. We had the name of the person helping us and their work gets double-checked. And even then, there’s audit protection included in the price!
The interface is really friendly-looking and easy to use. If you don’t understand something, there’s usually a little pop-up to help out.
Pricing is pretty clear and they have flat fees. Don’t forget to scroll down! The main fee you see is for federal forms. As I mentioned before, we also need to file a state tax return which is listed as an option on the bottom of that page. As of this writing, these states typically make you file: California, New Mexico, South Carolina, Virginia. Obviously, do your own research on this!
You have your own accountant for you to ask questions which is so nice! Granted, they may not be in the same time zone, so give it a day or two. There was a little confusion with mine thinking we were in another state, but hey, we’re all human, and it wasn’t a big deal. But little things might happen and it’s still on you to review your information and make sure it’s all correct!
2020 was a year that was very confusing with stimulus checks and how that impacts taxes, especially for expats. Taxes For Expats would send an email as soon as they understood what was happening so you always stay in the know. They know their clients and their pain points, so they try to acknowledge them before they get scary or frustrating.
They have a help chat which I’ve used, but it’s likely they’ll refer you to your accountant if it’s specific to you. But the level of support offered is quiet impressive.
It’s a woman-founded and woman-owned business and it’s nice to know that you are supporting that kind of business. Doesn’t make it better or worse, but I love that a woman created a service like this!
They have a ton of information on their website that’s easy to find and, more importantly, easy to read.
If the IRS audits you, they can help with that, too.
You may also be interested in reading how to get your financial set up in the Netherlands
What we didn’t like about this expat tax service
I loved having someone else do our taxes. Hello, free time! But, the reminder emails to submit the information before our Dutch taxes were even due were a bit much. I appreciated the due diligence, but once I emailed our rep back and let them know when we expected to have the Dutch papers, he paused the reminders until then.
There’s a little bit of math to do on your own if you are filing jointly. I guess that’s to be expected and it wasn’t too bad. Part of me hoped we would just scan everything in and some machine would read it and figure out what numbers to put where. I don’t think taxes will ever be quite that simple in the U.S.
The price is a bit higher than I expected, or maybe I’m just cheap? Of course, it is higher than if you do it yourself on Turbotax. I see it as you paying for professionals to know it’s done right…and filling out the paperwork you know you don’t want to do. Also, the investment is in line with what I see in Amsterdam to do similar work. Just the cost of being an expat!
If you’re looking for someone to do your United States taxes, I would recommend Taxes For Expats. They are professional and very responsive. I’m such a control freak that I ask a lot of questions, mainly around timing, and they always get back to me quickly.
As with anything like this, have your papers ready. Know your numbers and just go for it! They also can check a return you do yourself if you just want to hone your skills as your own personal tax person 🙂
I’d love to know if you do your own taxes or if you pay someone to do them for you. Are you ever worried you fill it out wrong? That fear is why we have someone do our taxes, so just do what’s best for you!
Wishing you love and travels!
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