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Old 03-12-2008, 12:58 PM
 
60 posts, read 279,188 times
Reputation: 48
Default Please recommend a tax company

My hubby and I are about to file taxes. I am new to this country and have no idea about how to file (A LOT easier in my country). My hubby has been filing all these years but I wonder if he doesn't know what tax breaks he is entitled to. Especially now that he is an independent contractor and now that we're filing together for the first time (in fact, do I need to file at all if I have not worked since I arrived in the country a few months ago).

Anyway, for this year, we're thinking of getting a professional to file our taxes. Like H & R or Turbo Tax. Or something like that....someone basically who'll patiently lead us through the entire process and answer all our questions. We're not rich by any means, so a company that charges reasonable rates would be very much appreciated. Most important is to have someone ask us all the questions needed to make sure we get all the tax breaks we are entitled to. Basically someone who is very thorough.

I truly appreciate any advice you might offer on which company/individual to go with. Please feel free to share your stories here on your experiences with the companies too. Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-12-2008, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,874 posts, read 11,320,724 times
Reputation: 2445
Quote:
Originally Posted by msservos View Post
... My hubby has been filing all these years but I wonder if he doesn't know what tax breaks he is entitled to. Especially now that he is an independent contractor ... we're thinking of getting a professional to file our taxes. Like H & R or Turbo Tax ...
Hi. For over 15 years I've been been in tax accounting, with two firms, in the Seattle/Bellevue area, and I think I can offer help.

Your idea that your husband may be entitled to deductions that he is not aware of is an excellent idea, particularly for people who are self-employed like your husband.

"Turbo Tax", as I'm sure you know, is a computer program -- software you buy and install on your computer, follow the directions, and fill in your own tax return form. Since you or your spouse may not fully familiar with the U.S. income tax system, and for all the reasons you mention, I strongly recommend that you wait a year or two to buy such a program, until you understand better the U.S. income tax system and your own tax situation.

H&R Block is not one of the accounting firms I have worked for, but I know a lot about how that company works. They are wonderful for people who can't spend a lot of money, do not need weekly or monthly tax assistance, and just want to have their tax return form filled out accurately.

H&R Block will take you through all the steps. You can phone an office near you to make an appointment (from your phone directory's white pages or yellow pages). Please do that soon, because now they are starting to get crowded.

At the H&R office, ask the accountant who helps you to explain "every line" of the tax return as she or he fills it in on the tax form. That process will help you to learn how the system works, for your own future knowledge.


Quote:
Originally Posted by msservos View Post
... we're filing together for the first time (in fact, do I need to file at all if I have not worked since I arrived in the country a few months ago) ...
U.S. law requires that every resident of the U.S., and every U.S. citizen residing overseas, regardless of age and income, be included on an income tax return. Usually, spouses file joint tax returns (one form with both names, both social security numbers, and the year's financial information for both), whether or not one or both of the spouses has received income during the year. Washington state is a "community property" state, meaning that all assets accrued by either party in a marriage residing in the state belong to each party equally; your husband's income is half yours, therefore you are as responsible as your husband for reporting that income and for paying taxes on it.

Even if you do not yet have a social security number, your name must be included on your joint income tax return. If you do not have a social security number, you should go to your nearest Social Security Administration office and apply for a number, taking your passport with U.S. Visa, official birth certificate, and proof of U.S. address such as driver license, electricity bill, printed bank statement you receive in the mail, etc.

I recommend that you phone your nearest H&R Block office this week, make an appointment, and ask them exactly what income documentation, charitable contribution documentation, mortgage interest documentation, and documentation of other income such as bank interest, stock dividends, etc. you and your husband need to take with you to the H&R appointment. Have fun!

Last edited by allforcats; 03-12-2008 at 01:58 PM..
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Old 03-12-2008, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,874 posts, read 11,320,724 times
Reputation: 2445
About 10 minutes ago, KOMO TV in Seattle ran a consumer-protection story on how to avoid problems when you choose a tax preparer. Interesting points. Here's the link:
Don't get scammed when having your taxes prepared | KOMO-TV - Seattle, Washington | Consumer News
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:46 PM
 
5,578 posts, read 8,003,381 times
Reputation: 5597
We have used H&R Block for years and years. My husband is too busy to mess around with doing taxes, and I just don't have the sort of brain that works well with numbers and all those big tax words. Not to mention it's hard to feel like you're doing your taxes correctly when you're busy keeping up with the kids, fixing dinner, doing laundry, and everything else us mama's must do all day every day!

We love the service we've received at H&R Block. They also have a service (which we get every year, it costs like 30 bucks I think...) which protects you from any mistake which might have been made during the filing of your taxes process. If there's a goof - H&R Block deals with it, pays any fee's and money owed to the IRS, and will also pay for any legal fees and lawyers if you need them for any reason. Also, if you are audited for any reason, H&R Block will be there to help with that as well. They offer a really great service. They make it really easy and safe.

Also, the people who work in the H&R Block offices always seem to be so well-trained and educated on all the tax laws and everything. We've used H&R Block in Texas, California, Oregon, and now Washington. At times we had tricky tax situations because of our moves for my husbands job... but the tax people walked us all through it every time and always patiently explained everything. They were all really wonderful.

Anyway - I highly recommend H&R Block especially if you are new to the country and have never done taxes before. Or, if you are like me and my husband and just want it done the easiest and quickest way possible! They are a trustworthy company and they feel like good people to me.
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Old 03-15-2008, 05:04 AM
 
60 posts, read 279,188 times
Reputation: 48
allforcats: Thank you very much indeed for writing such an exhaustive reply to my query! You have educated me! I also found the link you supplied very useful! I cannot stress enough my gratitude.

haggardhouseelf: Wow! You really are a fan of H & R Block! They should use you as their copywriter!
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Old 03-15-2008, 12:03 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,874 posts, read 11,320,724 times
Reputation: 2445
Msservos, you are very welcome! And isn't it great that h.h.elf recounted her experiences! We're both happy that we could help you. Happy weekend!
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Old 03-16-2008, 06:22 PM
 
5,578 posts, read 8,003,381 times
Reputation: 5597
Msservos, you are very welcome! If I wasn't already "employed" as a full-time mom, I'd love to work for them.

Funny tidbit: my husband moved to this country with his family when he was 15. He found an after school and weekend job shortly after he arrived here. Yet - no one explained "doing your taxes" to him. He thought the money coming out of his checks was him paying taxes and that was all he needed to know. He was a typical high school kid... working at the mall, going to school, girls and cars and motorcycles...

So, years later he begins receiving letters from the IRS saying he hadn't paid his taxes. Well - he became all upset because he had his paychecks proving that he had (or so he thought...)

Needless to say, he learned all about "doing your taxes" the hard way. His mother was born and raised in another country and even when she came here, her husband did all the "money stuff" so she didn't have a clue. His father was always traveling or away, so his dad was never around to explain things to him. Sad, huh?

Anyway - Good luck with your taxes. I also thought I'd mention that if you are enrolled in a University or Community College there are usually student services related to helping you with your taxes as well. Some employers also have help, or offer discounts through partnerships with other companies. You would contact your benefits liason or HR people, perhaps? It might be worth checking into.
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