A good accountant can be a huge economic (and emotional) benefit when you’re on home turf. When you’re overseas, finding that perfect accounting firm can be even more important. Unfortunately, being an expat means that the task of finding an accountant that you can trust could be just that little bit harder.
It’s the last thing that most adventurous expats want to be thinking about, but when it comes time to lodge your Australian tax return, you will need to consider finding a good accounting firm, wherever you are.
Here are our top 5 tips for finding expat accountants & expat tax specialists when you’re an Australian expat:
1. Find an accountant that specialises in Australian tax in an international context
Yes, whilst most accountants are purely domestic focused, accountants that specialise in expat tax services are out there and they are worth the search. A good accountant is invaluable, but an accountant that is willing to take on foreign tax and accounting that they’re not specialised in, might cost you money and time. And if you’re not careful, ultimately they may even be a liability!
2. Check their reputation & experience
Reviews are only a click of a mouse away. Don’t just head into a tax agent’s office because they are on your way home from the supermarket, take a moment to check their reputation and their experience. Questions to ask include, how long have they been around, how many years have they specialised in Australian tax in an international context as it applies to expats etc.
3. Who is handling your taxes?
While you may initially have contact with a CPA or CA, that doesn’t mean they’ll be the ones handling your tax. Make sure that you are being tended to by a qualified accountant and that your taxes aren’t being passed off to unqualified employees and/or work experience book-keepers.
4. Do they speak your language?
Both literally and figuratively, you need to make sure that your accountant speaks your language. To clarify, in order to have a complete grasp of where you are at and where you want to get to, your accountant needs to truly understand you and your needs. Don’t let them do your taxes and shut the door on your relationship. Make sure this is someone who you trust, someone who embraces your situation and works with you, and ultimately someone that you feel comfortable with and confident about.
5. Open communication is key
You don’t want your taxes to be the end of your accountant’s care. Your finances deserve to be looked after, and you deserve regular news, information and communication from your expat accountant. Make sure they are clear, honest, and communicative. Ensuring they have transparent costs and don’t charge you for every conversation that you have with them is a good first step!