Tax Man

The following is a sponsored post. I received a discounted rate on having my taxes prepared by TaxesForExpats.com (TFX) in exchange for writing this review. All views contained herein are my own. If you have any other questions about sponsored content on my blog, please see my Disclosure Policy.

As my American readers are certainly aware, Tax Day is next week. Ugh! Who likes doing their taxes? Back in the US, I would make myself a checklist of all the required documents, check them off as they arrived (either in the mail or via email), and then sit down one morning and file everything myself. The list of documents was long (having a house, a kid, and multiple student loans will do that to you), but I always felt accomplished once I was done… And I certainly did a happy dance when our refund would hit our bank account.

Filing taxes as an American living abroad is different. First of all, yes, we still have to file taxes even though we don’t live or work in the US. Fun, right?! (Wrong.) We also have to file an FBAR, which is a report of all our overseas accounts. That’s actually the only financial form I do myself now.

You guys, overseas taxes are hard, or they are for us anyway. Andy’s salary statement is in German. The Swiss withholdings are all listed in German. We don’t actually have to claim all of his income (so we’re not truly double taxed, only partially double taxed). We still own the house and student loan debt in the US, so we have tax forms coming from two countries in two languages requiring two different tax returns.

You can bet your bottom dollar that we pay someone else to do it all for us. We have a Swiss firm to do our Swiss taxes (and they’re great; let me know if you want a referral) and a separate firm to prepare our US taxes. None of this is inexpensive, so I was obviously thrilled to receive the offer I did from TFX. However, their fee structure is very affordable! Our tax preparation won’t break the bank next year when I don’t receive a discounted rate 😉

TFX was founded by a woman, which – as I’m sure you can guess – is exciting to me. Let’s hear it for women entrepreneurs, right? Although I didn’t have the pleasure of speaking to Ines personally, I did work with a few staff members via email, on the phone, and through the website. Everyone was super friendly and quick to answer any questions that I had. Our return was handled by a woman named Susan and she helpfully answered a question I had about the FBAR form, even though I’m preparing the FBAR myself and therefore not paying TFX the $75 fee for that form. You’ve gotta love responsive customer service like that!

TFX has an extensive knowledge base of tax situations for Americans living abroad, from traditional situations like military contractors and retirees to niche scenarios like accidental Americans and digital nomads. Whatever your particular tax situation, TFX has someone on staff ready to help you resolve it.

The entire process with TFX was quick and easy. (I was the biggest holdup in the entire process; oops.) After you create your profile, an introductory phone call will be scheduled. Andy and I spoke to Jose and he was very friendly and answered the few questions we had. I’m sure the discussion could have been more in-depth if we had needed it, but since this wasn’t our first time having our taxes filed with foreign income, we were pretty prepared for the process. After the phone call, you complete your tax questionnaire, which is interactive and only makes you answer the questions pertinent to your specific needs. TFX will then send you an engagement letter outlining the services they will provide.

After you sign the engagement letter, TFX requests 15 days per tax year to complete your returns. I was incredibly impressed with the quick turn-around. I uploaded my last document on April 2nd and Susan had our returns done on April 4th! I obviously can’t promise that every return will be done in two days, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things go a lot more quickly than the 15 days listed in the FAQ. Once your returns are prepared, you simply pay the fee, review the forms, and then complete the e-filing process. In total, the process took one week for our 2017 federal and Illinois returns. Not too shabby!

I really can’t say enough good things about TFX, so I hope you’ll consider them if you’re an American living abroad who needs help with tax preparation. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll get a $25 credit on your account.