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Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Old Mar 22nd 2012, 1:46 pm
  #1  
msw
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Default Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Hi,
We moved to the US from UK last March. My husband is on H1 and I am H4. We have 2 kids.
When we lived in the US previously we did our own taxes (10yrs ago) but our circumstances are slightly more complicated now and we have left it all a bit late so I am considering using either Turbo Tax or a tax prof. I got a quote from a tax prof but is was $500 - a bit more than I niavely thought!

I'll list a few points re our circumstances below, am just looking for thoughts on whether it would be worth it to pay the $500 or if we could manage it ourselves. Thanks, Mairi

Husband working here since March 2011
I worked Jan - Feb 9th 2011 in the UK. (ie before moving here).
We rent out our home in the UK (at a loss! rent does not cover mortgage interest)
We have some UK savings c£10k
We have no stocks/shares
We have small UK pensions which we won't be able to claim for years.
We have UK life ins due to the mortgage.
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Old Mar 22nd 2012, 3:15 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by msw View Post
Hi,
We moved to the US from UK last March. My husband is on H1 and I am H4. We have 2 kids.
When we lived in the US previously we did our own taxes (10yrs ago) but our circumstances are slightly more complicated now and we have left it all a bit late so I am considering using either Turbo Tax or a tax prof. I got a quote from a tax prof but is was $500 - a bit more than I niavely thought!

I'll list a few points re our circumstances below, am just looking for thoughts on whether it would be worth it to pay the $500 or if we could manage it ourselves. Thanks, Mairi

Husband working here since March 2011
I worked Jan - Feb 9th 2011 in the UK. (ie before moving here).
We rent out our home in the UK (at a loss! rent does not cover mortgage interest)
We have some UK savings c£10k
We have no stocks/shares
We have small UK pensions which we won't be able to claim for years.
We have UK life ins due to the mortgage.
If you are uncertain you should pay a professional. But make sure it's someone who knows about international tax and how to deal with UK pensions. Ask them how they will deal with gains in your UK pensions for US tax purposes. They should know about the UK/US tax treaty and be familiar with its application.
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Old Mar 22nd 2012, 4:37 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Contact Pete Newton. He is an expat that is a member of BE. He has been doing my taxes for the past few years as well as several others on here. He is certified in the US and the UK.

www.britishexpatstax.com
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 1:04 am
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Hindsight and all that, but why didn't you get your first and last years tax prep as part of the relocation package?

But the $500 doesn't sound that bad really, not great, but not outrageous either, considering you've got rental income and pensions to deal with.
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 12:20 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Turbo Tax online is free until you actually file so you could try it and see. I've used it for years.

A tax pro can sometimes find things you missed and sometimes a lot more than their fee so it can be well worth it. H&R Block were offering a free 2nd look if you had filed with someone else. Don't know how free "free" actually is though!
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 1:26 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by msw View Post
Hi,
We moved to the US from UK last March. My husband is on H1 and I am H4. We have 2 kids.
When we lived in the US previously we did our own taxes (10yrs ago) but our circumstances are slightly more complicated now and we have left it all a bit late so I am considering using either Turbo Tax or a tax prof. I got a quote from a tax prof but is was $500 - a bit more than I niavely thought!

I'll list a few points re our circumstances below, am just looking for thoughts on whether it would be worth it to pay the $500 or if we could manage it ourselves. Thanks, Mairi

Husband working here since March 2011
I worked Jan - Feb 9th 2011 in the UK. (ie before moving here).
We rent out our home in the UK (at a loss! rent does not cover mortgage interest)
We have some UK savings c£10k
We have no stocks/shares
We have small UK pensions which we won't be able to claim for years.
We have UK life ins due to the mortgage.
I would use a tax prof as you don't have a full tax year in the US and have savings etc in the UK.
We were in a similar situation but maybe more complicated as husband, son and I all moved out at different times of the year ie April, August and November. However we didn't have the home in the UK to add in to the equation.

We use HR block. They charge $200 (or maybe just over)
Don't know if it's more if you itemise but don't think so as she always looks at which way is the best anyway.
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 1:29 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Hindsight and all that, but why didn't you get your first and last years tax prep as part of the relocation package?

But the $500 doesn't sound that bad really, not great, but not outrageous either, considering you've got rental income and pensions to deal with.
Not everyone gets relocation packages.
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 5:06 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Linda44 View Post
Not everyone gets relocation packages.
On a H1B...not building in any form of job protection in writing to make it more expensive to get rid of you over the person in the next cubicle is just poor negotiating.
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Old Mar 23rd 2012, 5:17 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Thanks for all the replies. We'll delve into it all over the weekend.
Re the relocation package, perhaps we could have negotiated for it to be included but he works for an academic institution not a private company and in my experience they are very tight on the old relocation package front ....
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Old Mar 24th 2012, 3:40 am
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
On a H1B...not building in any form of job protection in writing to make it more expensive to get rid of you over the person in the next cubicle is just poor negotiating.
The next toilet cubicle??
Why would agreeing to pay for your tax returns mean you were more expensive to get rid of?
As msw says, academic institutions aren't usually very forthcoming with relocation packages.
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Old Mar 24th 2012, 3:16 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Linda44 View Post
The next toilet cubicle??
Why would agreeing to pay for your tax returns mean you were more expensive to get rid of?
As msw says, academic institutions aren't usually very forthcoming with relocation packages.
As there are no job protections in most states in the US, if the cost to the company come lay off time of ditching you is zero versus if you had negotiated that the company fully pay for your repatriation (pay out rental agreement, cost of house sale, loss of money in car sale etc) and final year tax cost, you suddenly become a lot more expensive to shit can v the person sitting next to you.

Even in academia you can push for this because it essentially won't cost them anything unless they know that they might have funding issues.

It's all about protecting yourself and minimising you getting left in the lurch.

Asking for first year tax prep also isn't that big of a deal, it's still cheaper on the employer than you buggering off because you've made a mess of the thing and now the IRS want to fine you huge sums over failing to file your FBAR/FACTA etc.

Sure you might not get all the nice little extras that other people ask for in the relocation package, but the basics are still the basics and if you don't ask you'll definitely be left in the lurch.
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Old Mar 24th 2012, 4:15 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
As there are no job protections in most states in the US, if the cost to the company come lay off time of ditching you is zero versus if you had negotiated that the company fully pay for your repatriation (pay out rental agreement, cost of house sale, loss of money in car sale etc) and final year tax cost, you suddenly become a lot more expensive to shit can v the person sitting next to you.

Even in academia you can push for this because it essentially won't cost them anything unless they know that they might have funding issues.

It's all about protecting yourself and minimising you getting left in the lurch.

Asking for first year tax prep also isn't that big of a deal, it's still cheaper on the employer than you buggering off because you've made a mess of the thing and now the IRS want to fine you huge sums over failing to file your FBAR/FACTA etc.

Sure you might not get all the nice little extras that other people ask for in the relocation package, but the basics are still the basics and if you don't ask you'll definitely be left in the lurch.
Yeah - I hadn't even heard of "at will" employment until after I moved to the US. Once you understand it and how easy it is for an employer to terminate your employment, you might think twice about moving without some sort of protection built in just in case things go wrong. It doesn't hurt to ask - they can only say "no".

Within 2 weeks of arriving with a wife and 3 young kids, my US employer was purchased by another company and suddenly everything was a lot more uncertain. In hindsight, it turned out that this was the beginning of a long, slow death for the company - although we didn't know it at the time. Luckily I was able to stay long enough to obtain a green card and then a reasonable amount of time afterwards. I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost my job because of that initial takeover.
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Old Mar 24th 2012, 7:13 pm
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
As there are no job protections in most states in the US, if the cost to the company come lay off time of ditching you is zero versus if you had negotiated that the company fully pay for your repatriation (pay out rental agreement, cost of house sale, loss of money in car sale etc) and final year tax cost, you suddenly become a lot more expensive to shit can v the person sitting next to you.

Even in academia you can push for this because it essentially won't cost them anything unless they know that they might have funding issues.
Academia is very different from company employment. Unless you are coming on as faculty you won't get relocation or any other help. When I came to the US on an H1 it was as a post doc and all I got was a starting date and a promise of 3 years employment. There was no provision for a tax package, relocation etc.
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Old Mar 25th 2012, 1:03 am
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Default Re: Turbo Tax or tax professional?

Originally Posted by nun View Post
Academia is very different from company employment. Unless you are coming on as faculty you won't get relocation or any other help. When I came to the US on an H1 it was as a post doc and all I got was a starting date and a promise of 3 years employment. There was no provision for a tax package, relocation etc.
Luck of the draw I guess...but you've still got to ask, costs you nothing if they say no, but costs you a lot more if you don't and they'd have offered it.

I only mention it because a friend of the missus is a lab manager, at the time for one of the Havard research labs, who had brought over a few people to do post docs.

The German person asked for a lot, ended up with a repatriation clause, tax help in the first year, one emergency family flight home in the 3 year contract and for the uni to pursue greencards (though they had to bare the lawyer costs) by year x.

The Chinese person got free English language class at the uni for his wife, he already spoke English and tax help and that was it as the Chinese government said he could only go for 3 years max.

The Brit asked for sod all and got absolutely that.

She said the uni found the funds from outside private company grants to the research programs they were working on.

Okay, these were top of their field kind of folks, so not just every day teaching positions, but it just shows that you've really got nothing to lose.

The Brit didn't have a problem with things as he never realised how short changed he was compared to the other two who came at about the same time.
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