Sunday, 17 July 2011

Expat Taxes



There are only two certainties in life...death and taxes. 


It's that time in my expat journey to write my post about paying taxes. I've put it off for as long as I could, but there's no escaping it. If you ever want to go back to the States you need to be current with your taxes. Despite what I've read about people hoping to forget all about taxes when they come to live in England it's just not true. You will have to file taxes.


In addition to filling back taxes from 2007 I also had a misfiling from 2004 which finally caught up with me and I ended up having to pay a not so small sum of money to the IRS. Turns out that I can refile and get a refund, so that was something that I needed to do as well.


I started thinking about filing my back taxes almost a year ago and started asking around if anyone knew of someone who can handles American taxes. A lovely guy that I know here recommended someone, but I didn't have a very good experience with him. Basically the person who was recommended was just so slow at getting back to me. I just gave up on it, thinking that I could maybe figure it out on my own. Now that was almost a year ago, so you can see how far I got. 


Since I am thinking of returning to Minnesota at some point and applying for Matthew's green card, that means I have to get these taxes sorted. I spent a bit of time researching it online and came to the conclusion that I am not be the best person to file my own taxes. I might be good at lots of things, but I came to the realization that I was more than happy to let a professional take care of it. 


So that meant finding someone to do it. I went to the UK Yankee website, which is my favourite site for everything expat, and had a look at the Tax threadHaven't filed Since moving to the UK! Help! 


This tread struck a cord with me and I saw that they mentioned Greenback Expat Tax Service. I went to the website, liked the look of it so I sent them an email and they got back to the next day.


Getting my taxes sorted was really easy. I got an email instructing me that I had been given a File Share where I could upload files and that I needed to fill out a tax questionaire. I filled out the form and uploaded all my tax information. 


I had the IRS send me everything I needed, which made things easy. I uploaded all my documents on a Sunday and I got an email back on Monday afternoon informing me that my taxes were ready! I couldn't believe it. 


I had one issue with my 2010 tax return relating to some investments and David was super helpful. I needed to get some more information from my financial advisor and he was able to amend it the very next day. 


I've been very impressed with how quickly they came back to me. I would recommend Greenback Expat Tax Service. It was just so easy to upload the information they needed and get the returns done. I just felt that I didn't want to mess around with my taxes and risk not filing them correctly. 


Their pricing is pretty straightforward you pay $329 for the first return and each additional year is $279. You can pay the bill online, either by credit card or PayPal.


All I can say is don't be afraid of filing your taxes, just do it. Working with David was so easy and he's a lovely guy and I am very happy with the service I received from Greenback.



I got this email from David about the process works:

We get a lot of questions from new customers about 'how the process works' so below is a brief outline of what you can expect. If you have any questions, please drop me an email anytime and I will do my best to answer them. I understand that you have multiple years of returns to file. If you just fill in one questionnaire and then copy it for each year, you will only need to change any information that changes from one year to the next. If you have any correspondence from the IRS regarding your 2004 return, please upload that as well.

How the process works:

1- You will receive shortly (or have just received) a user name and password to access our sharefile system. This system will allow us to securely share your tax documents as well as your draft and final tax returns. This system utilizes the same 128bit encryption that banks use, so it is very secure. 


2- When you log in, you will notice that I have uploaded a questionnaire which you can use to share your tax details, as well as a checklist which itemizes which documents you will need to upload to your secure folder.


3- Once you have uploaded these documents, I will start reviewing them, and will likely come back to you with some questions and clarifications to make sure that I fully understand your specific situation and can help you take advantage of as many deductions as possible.


4- Once I have all the info I need from you, I will prepare your draft return and upload it to your secure folder. At that point, you will also receive an invoice from us. Payment is not due until you are happy with your draft return.


5- Once you have reviewed your tax return and paid the invoice, we will then upload the final return to you, with directions for mailing it in or in many cases we can efile it for you.

I hope that is clear, however if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

I look forward to working with you. My goal is to make this US tax year your most hassle-free one yet!

Sincerely,

David L. Hillary, Jr., CPA, CITP, MBA

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with Greenback. I found them online, and after many years of living in British Columbia, Canada and filing my own US returns, things got just too complicated with investments, etc. So 2012 is the first year I'm getting Greenback's help. I'm feeling more relieved already, as the questionaire looks professional, and I look forward to competent assistance! By the way, I grew up in Minnesota too...

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  2. I am a UK citizen married to an American. We left the USA in 2008. But now we have realised one day we might go back to sunny New Mexico. I fould greenback online. They have been wonderful so far. Haven't filed yet as we are waiting for the UK tax year to finish. They explain easily and have been ever so helpful. So much cheaper than any other quotes we got.

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  3. Sorry to be anoynmous, but you know...
    I'm a former US CPA. Moved to Australia and kept up with all the multi-country requirements until it just got to be too much on the US side. Finally expatriated and used greenback for our final returns. I did look into the individuals involved and they were all pretty much either CPAs or enrolled agents. The person I worked with was an enrolled agent located in Sydney and I was very pleased and impressed with the service and professionalism. Very cost effective too. They are definitely on my "recommend' list to Americans in need of tax assistance. It's not easy to find good resources at reasonable cost, but Greenback meets the bill.

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  4. This is encouraging. I live abroad and have not filed in 4 years. I looked at other sites that made me think I was a criminal and would be headed straight for jail! Greenbacks website and video blogs take all the sting and drama out of the scenario. I finally understand that I am not the only Expat who slid behind on my tax filings for whatever reason. I am not trying to cheat the system, I just couldn't find anyone to handle my situation. So far I have been pleased with Greenback and their attitude towards this which is...Yeah, you're not a criminal...it needs to be handled...don't worry- we got it. And for MUCH less than anyone else had quoted. I look forward (well that's a stretch) to proceeding with them and finally getting caught up!

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  10. Hi, I was led to your site because I am researching reviews for Greenback Tax Services. Are you still using them? So far, I am pleased with the process and the developments are consistent with the steps you outlined. Their responsiveness is key. I was actually disappointed with HRBlock Expat Tax services, in a span of a week, they've passed me around to 3 people sending me welcome emails. Every time I reply to confirm, a new person introduces himself/herself. It's a shame because I've been using them for years and they just lost my loyalty.

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  11. Do Greenback have UK tax consultants who can advise about how best to structure your assets for both countries?

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