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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I'm looking for a bit of advice or a recommendation. I'm about to file US taxes for the first time since living & working in Australia. I'm open to using professional accounting services, but I'm not sure how to find a reliable accountant for a reasonable fee. I haven't had a lot of luck searching the internet, and I only have a gut feeling of what a reasonable fee is (which could be quite wrong). So I'm wondering:

  • Can anyone recommend a good accountant (preferably in Sydney) for expat tax services?
  • Can anyone give a ballpark figure for a reasonable fee to prepare a us tax return?
  • Does anybody know if it is a good or bad idea to attempt to prepare my own return?

I would actually prefer to fill out the forms on my own and simply get an accountant to check everything over. But so far I have only been able to get a quote of $500+ AUD to prepare the full return, which felt a bit steep.

Thanks in advance.

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If your sources of income aren't too complicated, there's no good reason not to prepare your own US returns, especially if you've done so while in the US.

Basically, you fill out the same returns in the same way except that you start with Form 2555 (Overseas Earned Income Exclusion). At the end of that form they tell you which numbers to carry over to which lines on the 1040.

If you still wind up with taxes due, you then file form 1116 to take a foreign tax credit for taxes paid in Australia.

And, if you want somewhat more economical tax preparation advice, you might want to look for an Enrolled Agent rather than a tax accountant. https://portal.naeacentral.org/webportal/buyersguide/professionalsearch.aspx?Token= Enrolled agents are registered with the IRS (have to pass exams on US taxation matters) and are qualified to represent their clients in tax court, should the need arise. They generally charge less than a tax accountant or attorney - and if you're only interested in preparing your tax returns, are probably better value for the money.

On the search page, just select Australia in the Country line and they will give you a list of all the enrolled agents practicing in the country, along with their contact information.
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