It’s almost tax time. In fact, the tax “season” officially opened two days ago which means that: The Internal Revenue Service will officially begin accepting individual returns on Monday.

So what does that mean for you as an expat? Well, the most important thing to know is that you are most probably a little bit different from everyone else in the U.S. because you have international reporting obligations. This means that if you have been here for more than 6 months (give or take), you have to report anything from U.S. AND Australia on your tax return this year.

There’s been lots of talk in politics these past few weeks and months about a tax “overhaul” however one thing you should know is that not much of this affects you (and in reality, it doesn’t affect anyone for their return in 2017 – however there are a few things that you may need to be made aware of).

In combination with a handful of very helpful individuals throughout the community, I’ve prepared a page that always sits under “Living Here” in the top menu simply entitled “Tax”, which has a lot of useful tips.

In addition to that, I’ve been speaking to (full disclosure) my accountant (Robert (“Bob”) Stein from Raich Ende Malter & Co. who I think is great – but he hasn’t paid me to say this – in fact he charges me and I STILL write this nice thing about him) who had this bit of advice (not his exact words, but close):

As a newcomer to the U.S. (for at least the first year and first filing), you should always, for simplicity, safety and peace of mind, use a proper accounting or tax firm.

If you’re single, taxes are only moderately complex in the year of arrival.  There’s a chance (a slim one at that) that a single person could file on their own and get it right, however if they’re married, the tax picture is far more complex and in no way should they attempt to file their own taxes.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Josh, of course he’s going to recommend that you go seek professional help, that’s how he makes money! This is completely true and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The thing is, you want to make sure you have your head across everything and anything there is to know about your particular situation. TurboTax and other related assistants are fantastic for simple filings, but yours is most probably not going to be that (e.g. do you have Australian bank accounts that make interest? Do you have any shares? Have you worked in Australia during this/last financial year?).

If you don’t want to use a tax preparer or accountant, you are well within your rights. My advice though for anyone who is here on a visa and hoping to stay for the long haul: Don’t get in the bad books of the IRS or they’re going to make your life a real pain in the butt.

At the very least, to file your tax as an employee of another company, you’re going to need to be holding onto your W-2 which shows your yearly income and it’s worth remembering that:

Taxpayers have an extra two days to file this year. The federal deadline is Tuesday, April 17. The usual deadline, April 15, falls on a Sunday, and April 16 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

How can I track my tax refund?

The I.R.S. recommends using its IRS2Go app for smartphones or its online refund tool to check the status of refunds. Filers claiming the earned-income credit or the additional child tax credit, however, won’t see updates for projected refund dates before Feb. 17, the agency has said.

Happy tax season!

About the Author

America Josh

I had a fantastic life in Adelaide and in Australia but thought in late 2015 that it was time to do something new. I handed over control of my company, sold my house, car, and even gave away my cat (“Aslan”) to start on my journey to New York.

I arrived in New York on January 10, 2017, from Adelaide, South Australia and in March 2017, I started America Josh to help make the transition to the US from wherever you’re from just a little bit easier.

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