(Contributed by Emmy Carson.)
Tax season doesn’t come easy to the regular American — but even more so for American expats.
With CNBC revealing that over 9 million U.S. citizens live overseas, these expats have to go through a lot of additional reporting and filing of documents that their domestic counterparts get to skip. This is to prevent foreign bank holders from hiding cash offshore and evading taxes — which is reasonable enough, but as the process of filing for taxes in itself is a hassle, the additions can be extremely inconvenient for many expats.
Fortunately, the development of digital technology has made the filing process far easier. Now, there are plenty of resources and tools that were made specifically to help expats out with the filing process, and this new level of convenience provides a much smoother approach.
Getting info is easier than ever
Gone are the days where American expats had to ask fellow expats or go to their local American embassy multiple times to ask questions and file documents — the internet now provides all the answers.
There are plenty of guides online that can help you make sense of the complicated and intimidating world of taxation, all of which can also update you about crucial information about taxation changes. For instance, Forbes covered all the need-to-know tax rates for 2019 following the IRS announcement. Last year’s standard deduction changes were also covered in a post by Marcus, as these changes can have a profound effect on tax payers supporting their families. Thanks to the internet, staying updated on the latest tax reforms and other news is no longer difficult, and expats can easily check out what they need to know with just a few clicks.
Having easy access to this kind of information is all thanks to the improved internet speeds across different regions in recent years. For instance, countries like Hong Kong and Singapore all have reliable and fast internet speeds that have helped bridge the geographical gap and have allowed expats to file their taxes more easily. Not to mention, seeing first-hand accounts, reviews, and recommendations from fellow expats on forums and online applications have also fostered a community that helps each other.
Having the opportunity to get all this information so easily is beneficial, as incorrectly filing or missing out on certain documents can lead to penalties. Penalties for not getting the paperwork right include fees, liens on foreign assets, limiting the ability to travel to the U.S., and even being denied a passport renewal.
You can coordinate in real time with specialists online
However, although having access to applications, online platforms, and various taxation blogs is truly beneficial, nothing beats real human connection, as humans can better tailor advice based on an expats’ needs and inquiries. This is why perhaps the best thing about the internet is that communication with people from afar has become seamless and instantaneous. Expats who have any questions or require assistance can easily find help from real people online, as it can be difficult to get assistance on U.S. taxes in a foreign country. This is why here at Bright!Tax we offer services from American CPAs with a secure, friendly user interface — making it easy for overseas Americans to remain compliant with their respective tax filing requirements.
Although the internet provides answers on many questions, it’s hard to know what exactly to ask if you don’t know where to start. Our article on ‘What’s New With US Expat Taxes in 2020’ is a good place to start. Expats with questions specific to their situation should contact a US expat tax specialist though.