Expat Guide to the Top 10 International Tax Firms
Expats living abroad face different challenges when it comes to taxation than when they did when they lived and worked in their home country. This is especially true for U.S. expats living and working abroad. Taxation is not only different for expats because of the two tax jurisdictions they have to manage and understand, but also in the more extensive planning. For example, expats who want to retire abroad, and lived before in different countries, may have pensions in multiple jurisdictions. A tax adviser can help those expats transfer these savings in the most tax-efficient way so that they serve you the best in your retirement in your chosen retirement destination.
International Tax Advice for US Citizens
Do US Citizens Pay Taxes if They Live Abroad?
Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen living outside the United States, your worldwide income is subject to US income tax, no matter where you live.
Do US Citizens Have to File a US Tax Return if They Live Abroad?
If your worldwide income exceeds the filing threshold (which varies by filing status), you must file a US Federal Tax Return each year. Income includes wages/salary from U.S. and non-U.S. sources, rental income, income from your business (self-employed income), and more.
Are There Any Deductions for US Taxpayers Living and Working Abroad?
Yes, there are tax deductions for U.S. citizens living and working abroad and receiving income from outside of the U.S.. Some widespread tax exclusions to avoid double taxation on the same income for the U.S. taxpayers include:
- Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
- Foreign Tax Credit
- Foreign Housing Exclusion
There are specific criteria to be met for these exclusions to be in force, and a qualified tax advisor will be able to advise you in more detail about each of the above.
Income Tax Treaties (Also Known as Double Taxation Agreements)
Income tax treaties, also called Double Taxation Agreements, or DTAs, help prevent double taxation for Americans living in foreign countries by reducing or eliminating US taxes on certain types of income. Currently, the US has tax treaties with 68 countries.
Because tax breaks vary by country, expats should review the treaty with their host country to determine how they’ll be taxed. However, tax treaties can be complex and challenging to understand. If you’re uncertain which rules apply to you, be sure to consult an accountant or tax advisor.
What to Look For in the Best International Tax Firm for Expats
The main thing to look for in your tax advisor or an international tax firm is the tax advisor’s ability to provide counsel and personal service. Tax advice is not only about filling in the tax returns on your behalf and helping with accounting, but in the case of international tax firms catering to expats, the service must go beyond. The specialist should take into consideration your future plans such as relocation plans.
This is crucial, as besides income tax, and the ability to advise you on how to best mitigate this liability, there are other taxes you may want to get help with, such as rental income tax, if you buy a property overseas, or even manage your home while you are abroad. Other taxes expats should consider getting counsel on include: inheritance tax, capital gains tax, pension distribution tax, etc. These taxes don’t necessarily have to concern you, but depending on where you live and work abroad, they might, and it is something to be aware of.
Top 10 International Tax Firms for Expats
Bright!Tax – Founded by an entrepreneur with venture capital backing, Bright!Tax is an option for taxpayers living outside of the United States. Bright!Tax began their operation with the 2010 tax year, Bright!Tax almost exclusively employs Virtual Tax Preparers that are CPAs (and no “Enrolled Agents”). They offer a secure interface for clients, along with a flat fee for basic ex-pat tax returns. Bright!Tax has customers in over 190 different countries, and they have won multiple awards.
Online Taxman – Online Taxman specializes in assisting US taxpayers working or living abroad; American entrepreneurs living outside of the country as well as government or military contractors, and citizens of overseas countries who invest in the United States. They also focus on providing help for digital nomads. Online Taxman utilizes a secure encrypted online portal for those with concerns about uploading their private documents online.
Protax Consulting – Protax is the world’s leading US individual international tax firm, specializing in the delivery of professional services in the US expatriate tax, foreign National/ U.S. Nonresident Alien tax, and the U.S. taxation of High Net Worth individuals. They understand that US citizens and US green card holders (resident aliens) have unique filing obligations, unlike the citizens of other tax jurisdictions. The team of accountants and tax advisors at Protax, based in the United States, can help US taxpayers achieve the most tax-efficient solutions.
Expat Tax Professionals – Expat Tax Professionals opened in 2012. They specialize in assisting US taxpayers in getting caught up with late tax return filings. Expat Tax Professionals utilize security measures (256 bit SSL and 256 bit AES encryption) for uploading tax documents and other supporting information, so you don’t have to worry about privacy and security. Expat Tax Professionals also offer simple, competitive pricing. In addition, you can find detailed information on their website regarding filing requirements and late filing options, which can be very helpful.
Expat US Tax – Expat US Tax is a team of experienced expatriate tax professionals helping Americans, Green Card Holders, Canadians, and Australians minimize their tax wherever they choose to call home. They have offices in the US, Canada, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. Expat US Tax consists of a small team of former employers of Ernst & Young, PwC, and other large multinational firms.
AITA – American International Tax Advisers is Asia’s best US tax firm. They are focused on assisting expats with US tax planning, consulting, and return preparation. With offices in Bangkok, Thailand, Hong Kong, Phnom Penh – Cambodia, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia, São Paulo – Brazil, Sydney – Australia, the Philippines, and the U.S, they help their clients navigate even the most complex situations.
Azran Financial – Azran Financial offers comprehensive tax planning, including the analysis of foreign tax credits, income tax treaties, foreign earned income exclusion, expatriation, residency elections, and dual-residency filing, including tax planning considerations due to changes in international law resulting from the Tax Cuts with the focus on US taxpayers.
Expat CPA – If you’re seeking a CPA firm with international knowledge and experience that helps American expats with taxes – from virtually anywhere in the world – look no further than Expat CPA. Expat CPA offers a range of tax services – from federal, state, and business returns to U.S. expatriate tax planning and a streamlined process for expats behind on their taxes.
Greenback Tax Services – Greenback Tax Services is another tax consultancy focusing on US expats. With a transparent pricing model available on their website, you know exactly what services you are paying for, ranging from simple tax advice, federal tax filing to late tax return filing services.
Taxes for Expats – Operating since the early 2000s, TFX evolved into an online-only service, and it’s focusing on the US expat market. They provide tax advice, planning, and compliance services for individuals, partnerships, corporations, trusts, and estates, subject to the US tax system, wherever they may live or operate in the world. TFX also has transparent pricing and responsive and helpful customer service.
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