The Expat’s Guide to Finding a Tax Consultant

May 27th, 2014 by Jason Hartman | 2 Comments »

JS0510If you’re living abroad or thinking about it, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind. Things can seem overwhelming and you’ll likely want to enlist the help of at least a few professionals. A tax consultant is a good place to start—and Jason Hartman’s team has a few tips to help you in your selection.

First, know what it is that you want. You’ll have to do some thinking (and perhaps some list making) to come up with this. Think about what your end goal is—do you want someone to simply help prepare your taxes while you live abroad? Do you want financial advice on planning your taxes while you are overseas? Do you want someone who can offer specialized, local tax advice? Are you looking for a bookkeeper or someone with experience in the legalities surrounding your particular tax situation?

Next, look for a tax professional with proper qualifications. Depending on the country you’re in, the requirements for certification may vary. Begin by looking into these requirements. Also be aware that many countries have business associations for tax consultants that act as directories available to the public. Some countries require tax professionals to be a part of these, while others just recommend it. Fortunately, much of this information is available online, so you can do some research before you even leave the country.

If you’re able to, get recommendations from others who live in the country. Word of mouth recommendations are usually reliable and are a great way to get connected.

But don’t feel like you have to take a recommendation or settle for the first tax professional you work with. Be picky, because you’re seeking advice that will affect your financial wellbeing. Treat your search like a job interview—narrow it down to a few professionals and then approach them with questions, look up reviews, and make your decision.

When you’re asking questions, be as specific as possible. You’ll want to know about fees, how exactly billing is done, the inclusion of extras. If your tax professional has worked on similar cases, you might want to know. All previous experience may help you to make your decision. Does your tax professional outsource any work? How long will it take?

Finally, never underestimate the power of your gut instinct. A good advisor is not always a good advisor for you, so remember that as you make your decision. Look for an advisor that suits your style—someone you’re comfortable revealing the details of your financial life to. Look for someone who is prompt, professional, and friendly.

(photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc)

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