Why Democrats Abroad Can’t Recommend An Accountant

A message from the Chair of the Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force on the 4th of July

I spent this past Sunday at the Democrats Abroad UK Independence Day Picnic in London. We fielded hundreds of questions from attendees at the tax table, but the top question people asked was, "can you recommend an accountant?"

There are a number of reasons Democrats Abroad can’t recommend an accountant and I’ll start with the obvious reason - we’re not regulated to give advice or refer people to professionals. We’re a political party. But we know the pain and suffering people go through with Americans abroad tax and financial access problems, so we try our best to point people in the right direction. The reason the Democrats Abroad Taxation Task Force exists in the first place is to help fix the tax problems for Americans abroad.

Secondly, and this might not be so obvious, but everyone’s financial situation and tax situation is different. An accountant that works for one person might not work for another. On top of that, you may not even need an accountant.

I know people ask for an accountant because they don’t feel confident enough to do it themselves, they think it’s too complicated, so they try to pay the problem away. I agree, it can be complicated, however with a little education (like from our tax webinars) and confidence, most Americans abroad are able to do it themselves using some kind of no or low cost online tax prep software. For example, this blog article on no or low cost tax prep options for Americans abroad has helped thousands save money on their tax prep costs this year.

I believe the government has failed Americans abroad. The embassies provide no support to help Americans abroad maintain their complicated tax filing obligation, and the IRS requires we file a tax return even though most of us do not owe any US tax, while we already pay tax in the country we live in. That’s not fair most of us have to pay money to prove we owe no US tax. This is not a functioning government. So it’s not our fault that the system has failed us.

Our recent trip to Washington D.C. has given us clarity on the way forward to provide legislative relief for Americans abroad on our tax issues. But Democrats Abroad can’t do it alone, we need your help. You have to speak up and tell your elected officials the problems you’re having with maintaining your tax filing obligation with the IRS. And no, you’re not going to get red flagged by the IRS or thrown in jail for speaking out. Most Congressional offices we speak to don’t even know about Americans abroad tax problems because they don’t hear from you, their constituents abroad. How are they to fix a problem they don’t even know exists?

So our ask to you to mark this 4th of July is if you’ve not contacted your Members of Congress about this issue recently, please follow this updated guidance on how to contact your Members of Congress in Washington D.C. and call them again (yes, call!) We need your voice to be heard, and your voice is a lot louder than you realize!

It’s because of many of you that we were able to get meetings with key Congressional offices or co-sponsorship on the Americans abroad commission bill. We will and can reform taxes for Americans abroad because when we work together change is possible.

Whether you celebrate big or small, wherever you are in the world, wishing all Americans abroad a happy 4th of July today!

Rebecca Lammers
Chair, DA Taxation Task Force

Links referenced in this post

Disclaimer: Democrats Abroad cannot provide individual tax advice. Advice requires consideration of your individual circumstances and needs, none of which can be done by reading this blog. We are not tax lawyers, accountants, or advisers. Please consult a professional tax adviser/accountant/return preparer when addressing your personal tax matters.

Democrats Abroad does not endorse or recommend companies or individuals. The views expressed in this blog post are those of the respective individuals and companies, not Democrats Abroad. No liability is accepted by Democrats Abroad for the opinions expressed, or for any errors or omissions expressed about matters of tax in any country, your financial planning, or your legal obligations.

If you are in need of tax advice you can consult the IRS Tax Return Preparer Directory to find an advisor or tax return preparer near you or providing online services to meet your needs and budget, though buyers need always beware: https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf