The estimated market size of the tax preparation services industry in the U.S. is around $11.2 billion for 2023. It means that there are millions of tax advisors—and people who need their services—in the country. As an expat looking for guidance in filing taxes, how do you even begin finding the tax resolution specialist fit for you and your needs?
The search for the right tax advisor can get confusing, especially if it’s your first time working with them. First, you need to get a scope of their services and offers. To know how they work, you need to ask the right questions.
As a starting point, this article will be your guide on some sample questions you should ask your tax advisor. Check out our list below:
1. What does the whole tax preparation process look like?
By asking this question, you immediately assess if the tax advisor you are talking to has mastery of what they are doing. They should be able to give you an overview of the whole tax preparation process and where their presence and knowledge would be needed. Moreover, discussing the tax preparation process allows you to coordinate your communication preferences with your tax advisor.
Throughout the tax filing process, you may need your tax advisor’s guidance. However, how often should you both get in touch and how?
You can set up several meetings throughout the year and do the tax prep in person or communicate with your tax specialist completely through phone calls or email. You should ask them about the process with most clients and also share your expectations. By being on the same page, you and your tax advisor can be available for each other and do your taxes smoothly.
2. What are the documents and papers that you need from me?
Your tax advisor needs a full and clear picture of your financial status to file your tax return, as well as help you save money accurately. Therefore, ask them what information they need to do their job. Most likely, they’ll ask you to submit the following:
- Your and your dependent’s identification information – This can be your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or Social Security number with date of birth.
- A copy of your recent tax return – Your tax advisor can use this to reference what kind of credits and deductions you qualify for.
- Proof of expenses – For itemized deductions, you’ll need to retain proof of payments for your records.
- Income statements and tax forms – Your tax advisor will need copies of your 1099 forms (for freelancers or contractors) or W-2 and other tax forms from your local country, employer, etc.
3. What tax goals should I set for myself? How can you help me achieve them?
Milestones such as buying a house, getting married, and having a baby can significantly affect your taxes. It would be best to let your tax advisor know of these changes so they can suggest your financial goals. These goals can vary, from setting up a trust fund to protect your property to getting life insurance. Your tax advisor should also help you create and execute tax strategies like multi-year tax projections.
4. What are the new tax laws and regulations I should be aware of?
One of the most common tax questions expats ask is, “Are there any new tax laws that will affect my plan?”. To answer this question, your tax advisor should be updated with all the new and changing tax laws.
If there are any new tax laws you’ve heard about, don’t hesitate to ask your tax advisor about them so you will know if they can affect your plans. By doing this, you’ll get to work together and amend your tax plan accordingly.
5. What are the tax deductions and incentives applicable to me?
The job of a tax advisor includes helping you save money through deductions and credits. This includes identifying which tax deductions are best for you and which ones you qualify for. Tax advisors can also assist you in strategizing to maximize your deductions. For example, they can advise you to make more charitable donations by the end of the year so that your finances are in a lower tax bracket.
6. How much do I have to pay?
Tax service partners don’t offer their services for free; they can charge you in different ways such as:
- By the complexity or number of forms
- By the hour
- By a percentage of your refund amount
- By the return
While asking your tax advisor how they charge their clients, you can also ask for an estimate with your case. They may not give you the exact amount, but having a rough estimate can be helpful as you won’t be surprised once their bill comes along.
Consult a Dependable Tax Advisor
Working with a tax advisor can help you accurately file your taxes, plan your financial future, and, above all, avoid costly expat tax mistakes. It’s essential that you’re thorough with your process of choosing a tax resolution specialist. By asking the questions above, you can better determine if your prospective tax preparer is knowledgeable and capable of creating great strategies.
If you need expert help in planning your taxes throughout the year, Tax Samaritan can be your tax resolution partner. Offering best-in-class service, we have been helping expats save money since 1997. Plan your taxes wisely and build a better future with Tax Samaritan.