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How to compare tax preparation companies

How to compare tax preparation companies

If you are looking for a tax preparation company online, you are truly spoilt for choice. Perhaps even overwhelmed.

Paradoxically the rich selection might even make it hard to pick the best firm - how do you know which one is right for you? After all, everybody has a pretty website and promises to deliver superb results at reasonable prices.

As a non-accountant, you simply don’t know which factors are important and which are just window-dressing (we face the same set of problems when picking doctors, lawyers or other professionals in the fields where we are not experts).

To help you decide, we prepared the following list of questions you should ask the firms you are considering - and our answers to them.

We prepared the following list of questions

you should ask the firms you are considering - and our answers to them.

1. How long have you been preparing US expat taxes?

Taxes for Expats (TFX) has been preparing American expatriate taxes for 25 years.

2. Do you have independently verified reviews or testimonials?

At TFX we have over 1300 testimonials with an independent review site TrustPilot:

Beware of companies that only list reviews on their own site - as you have no way of knowing if they are legitimate or were written by the company itself.

3. How many pairs of eyes will check my return? Just the person preparing it or someone else as well?

Every return prepared by TFX is checked by two pairs of eyes - the CPA or IRS Enrolled Agent who works with you on the case and a senior supervisor who double-checks their work.

4. Do you offer upfront pricing?Are your fees transparent - or do I have to tell you my life story before you show me your prices?

TFX offers 100% upfront pricing.

All our fees are listed on our website - and you don’t have to talk to anybody before seeing how much we charge. The prices do not fluctuate depending on the client’s personal circumstances.

5. Do you offer consultations?

Certainly. We offer a free intro consultation with a tax advisor for all new clients.

If you have more complex queries, Ines Zemelman offers consultations as well.

6. Do you offer IRS representation; i.e., can you handle an audit? Do you have a CAF number? How many cases did you represent?

TFX represents many clients who come to us with difficult cases.

Only certain practitioners are allowed to represent clients in front of the IRS - we are among this group. Thus we have a CAF number.

We handled 71 such cases last year.

7. Do you collect VAT? Are your prices in USD or “more expensive” currencies such as GBP, CHF or EUR?

We do not collect VAT or sales tax.

All our prices are charged in US Dollars.

8. Do you attend the annual IRS forum where top practitioners in the field interact with IRS top brass?

Yes, we attend the IRS forum annually. This IRS event allows us to stay abreast of the latest changes in tax laws and directly interact with the IRS representatives.

We always use this opportunity to bring the most difficult cases to the Case Resolution session for immediate resolution by senior IRS staff.

9. Are you around all year or just for a few months?

We work all year round.

10. How do I get my information to you? Do I have to fill out a PDF form?

No, we developed a web-based interactive questionnaire.

It can be completed by any client with access to the internet, regardless of the platform and software installed on their computers.

11. Do you have a PTIN number?

Anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid PTIN number. Every TFX staff member has their individual PTIN with which they sign client returns.

12. Do you have an EFIN number that allows you to file tax returns electronically on my behalf?

The IRS assigns an EFIN to identify the firm as an Authorized IRS e-file Provider . We have an EFIN number that allows us to file federal and state returns electronically on behalf our clients.

13. Do you store my documents in case I need them years later?

We store client documents in our system until they inform us that they would like them erased (or do so themselves in our system)

This provides our clients with a backup of all their tax-related documents prepared by us or uploaded by the client.

14. Do you use third-party file exchanges to exchange data with clients (such as or

No - at TFX we don’t rely on third-party file-sharing systems that store information in unknown countries.