American Citizens Abroad has created a U.S. Tax Return Preparers Directory that focuses on tax preparers who have experience with the international tax issues faced by U.S. expatriates.
Approximately 1,500 return preparers in over 50 countries including the United States will be listed. The directory will be updated on a continuous basis. Any return preparers, attorneys, accountants, enrolled agents, or others dealing on a day-to-day basis with return preparation and filings for Americans overseas can be added to the directory upon request, said the ACA.
The directory is also searchable by location and country and provides information on each tax preparer, including their education and professional qualifications and the types of returns they prepare, for example, U.S. federal and state income tax, U.S. estate and gift tax, trust forms, tax-exempt organization forms, and Foreign Bank Account Reports, or FBARs).
Internal Revenue Serrvice commissioner John Koskinen said this week at a conference of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that the IRS is planning to take steps to ease penalties on American citizens abroad who have failed to pay all their tax obligations through no fault of their own. He pointed to the success of the IRS's Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, but acknowledged that it may not have worked for those who weren't willfully evading taxes.
“We are considering whether our voluntary programs have been too focused on those willfully evading their tax obligations and are not accommodating enough to others who don’t necessarily need protection from criminal prosecution because their compliance failures have been of the non-willful variety," he said. "For example, we are well aware that there are many U.S. citizens who have resided abroad for many years, perhaps even the vast majority of their lives. We have been considering whether these individuals should have an opportunity to come into compliance that doesn’t involve the type of penalties that are appropriate for U.S. resident taxpayers who were willfully hiding their investments overseas.”
Such steps would help U.S. expatriates deal with their taxes. The ACA tax preparer directory could also assist them.
“Until now, there was nowhere someone could go to find a tax preparer experienced at preparing returns for individuals with international tax issues,” said ACA legal counsel Charles Bruce, who edits the directory. “ACA gets a steady stream of inquiries from people looking for help. This directory will be a great resource for the overseas American community as well as taxpayers resident in the U.S.”
This project fits within ACA’s mission of continuously providing important and useful information to the estimated 8 million Americans resident overseas. The directory also contains a database of other critical information related to filing U.S. tax returns, including how to choose a tax return preparer, steps and deadlines for filing returns and Foreign Bank Account Reports, IRS offices outside the US, and what to do if the IRS has questions, among other information.
“We anticipate that most people using the directory will reside abroad,” said ACA executive director Marylouise Serrato. “However, some may divide their time between two or more countries or may reside in the U.S. This is also useful for nonresident aliens, NGOs or anyone else that needs to file U.S. forms or simply needs assistance interpreting the rules.”
The directory is free of charge for ACA members and the public alike. It is available online at www.acareturnpreparerdirectory.com.