Below is a checklist of questions expats should ask tax preparers before employing them. Expats should also independently verify the credentials and credibility of potential preparers before employing them.
1. What experience do you have working with Overseas Americans? And from the country where I am living?
2. Are you registered with the IRS as a professional tax return preparer? Do you have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?
3. What are your professional credentials? Attorney? CPA? Enrolled Agent? Other?
4. Are you familiar with the tax treaties (if any) between the country where I am living and the US?
5. How familiar are you with the tax rules (language) of the country where I live? [This can really help to get the best quality.] Do you have local partners in that country in order to clarify issues that may arise?
6. Do you work with people who are generally similar to me [employment status, family status [e.g. kids, marital status, non‐American spouse], business owner, retiree, government or NGO employees etc.].
7. How long has your firm been established for? Have you been recognized or won awards for your service?
8. Where can I access reviews by your current and former clients?
9. Are you familiar with gift and estate tax rules?
10. What is your price range for clients like me? Will you charge me for each phone call and e‐mail as we clarify information on having my return filed?
11. How full is your practice? What is the normal turnaround time from the time I deliver to you all of my documents to the time my return is ready to be reviewed by me for filing?
12. What is your target date for filing my return if I get you all of the information by XXX date?
13. How many people work in your practice? Will you be filling out my tax return or will it be someone else? If it is someone else, are they an employee of your firm and how do you control quality and privacy? Who will be my main point of contact?
14. Have you ever been involved in a lawsuit with a client or had any disciplinary actions that I should know about? Do you have some type of insurance coverage in case you do make a mistake?
15. If I need certification of tax compliance for a bank, financial institution or other professional, do you provide such certification?
16. How are you comfortable receiving and sending documents? Paper, e‐mail, secure server? What technology solutions do you use if not everything is handled in paper/physical format?
17. What are your security policies to protect client confidentiality?
18. If you notice something I can do to save on taxes will you tell me? Do you offer tax planning, if yes, what are the additional charges for this?
19. If I get audited by the IRS or receive an IRS notice, what will you do to assist me?
20. Will you review my prior year tax return(s) and comment on any areas that you would do differently?
21. If I have interests in the United States, are you familiar with the State tax return(s) that need to be filed, if any?
22. Are you available outside of tax season for questions?
23. Do you work with other professionals in related fields? If yes, do you pay for referrals or receive compensation by referring clients to other professionals?