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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year a tax attorney did my returns (I found out I was doing them wrong for many years), and paid a lot to have the 2013 returns done. This year I decided to do them myself and just copied from last year changing the figures. I took my returns to another tax attorney just to see if I did them correctly and he found several errors. Last year the tax attorney deducted all my social charges, did not do a form 8829 for office expenses, but the end result was the same either way, I don't owe money because I am below the foreign earned income figure.

Now that I am aware of these errors, can I just not even list my office expenses. I took a look at form 8829 and it seems too complicated. Can I also not list my social charges. Will this send a red flag if I do the 2014 return different from 2013. I am filling out schedule C and long form 2555.

I really thought by having a tax attorney do my returns everything would be correct. But having two different tax attorney's opinions is doing my head in.

Any suggestions?
 

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I'd seriously question the "tax attorney" who deducted all your social charges - unless you're talking about deducting them as business expenses on a Schedule C. Form 8829 is for taking part of your home expenses because you're using a portion of your home for your business - but unless things have changed in the last few years, this is a deucedly difficult deduction to take.

If your Schedule C revenues fall under the FEIE exclusion limit (close to $100,000 this year), I'd skip doing the Schedule C altogether, just exclude your "earned income" under the FEIE and be done with it.

And no, they won't compare your 2014 forms to your 2013 forms unless you've suddenly hit the loto or something.

Generally, hiring a tax attorney to do your taxes just adds several levels of complication. (I guess they figure they have to "earn" their fees or something.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev, he did deduct the social charges as business expenses on Schedule C, so I am assuming, from what you wrote, that is OK? He put it on line 27a and explained on line 48 as French social security compulsory. Can I do the same?

And yes, form 8829 looks like very difficult to figure out.

Does that mean that maybe he just listed all the expenses for information only since it doesn't affect my bottom line?
 

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If your Schedule C revenues fall under the FEIE exclusion limit (close to $100,000 this year), I'd skip doing the Schedule C altogether, just exclude your "earned income" under the FEIE and be done with it.
This . . . is bad advice. And impossible. A person who has income from self-employment or who owns a business in their own name must report that income on Schedule C. They can't just say "owe, never mind with that Schedule C business, I'll just make up my own tax filing procedure because I want to." It doesn't work that way.

Generally, hiring a tax attorney to do your taxes just adds several levels of complication. (I guess they figure they have to "earn" their fees or something.)
Cheers,
Bev
Pretty rich for you to say this after illustrating yourself why it's good to hire an actual professional.
 

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Finding a local professional who knows the US tax code when you live outside of the United States is very difficult. Additionally, if the taxpayer himself knows next to nothing about US tax, he won't have a clue if the person he hired is actually competent or if something is done wrong. There is no substitute for self-education in this situation.

Even here in Canada just a hop across the border its tough to find someone who knows what they are talking about. When I discovered this compliance nightmare a few years back I talked to several professionals and got different answers from each of them. (Answers that ranged from "if you make less than the FEIE there is no need to file at all" to "you must enter OVDI immediately".) The so-called experts who herded their customers into OVDI for slaughter destroyed the reputation of US tax preparers in this country. No wonder people are wary. Thank God I opted to just do it myself.

Paying big bucks to produce a zero balance owing return is an exercise in frustration. Paying big bucks to get it wrong is also very frustrating because you can do that yourself for free. How much should you reasonably be expected to pay year after year to show you owe nothing to a country you don't live in?

When you hire a tax professional the expectation is that you are paying them money to make your problem go away. When they wind up making things worse resentment is the inevitable result. Maybe I was just unlucky but many of the regulars on this forum (yourself included, Stewart!) know more about the US tax code than anyone I was able to talk with locally.
 
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