This gives information on choosing a tax accountant to prepare U.S. tax returns.
Generally, you should choose a Certified Public Accountant who holds a valid practising license. You can verify the validity of a license with the relevant State Board of Accountants.
Most experienced tax CPAs are capable of handling U.S. tax returns that contain foreign income.
Specific criteria to look for in a CPA:
works exclusively in tax;
pragmatic. You don't necessarily want a CPA who advises you to amend your tax returns for a $10 mistake.
In particular, a tax CPA you choose should understand:
how foreign income fits into the U.S. tax system;
applying credits for foreign taxes
the information reporting applicable to foreign assets. This should include the Foreign Bank Accounts Reporting form, also known as FBAR or TDF-90, and the recently introduced form 8938 (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA).
You normally don't need a tax adviser who is "dual-qualified" in both the U.S. and your home country.
There are not many practitioners qualified this way, so you greatly narrow down your choice.
Normally, you should be able to handle any residual tax affairs in your home country yourself.
If you do have a tax accountant in another country, you can (and should) authorize both your advisers to talk to each other.
Ideally, you want to choose a firm where you will deal with the same CPA from one year to another.
Ask around your friends and co-workers for a recommendation. If this doesn't give you any names to focus on, then you should select a few medium sized CPA firms in your city and get some quotes on their services and costs.
Use your "gut feeling" when deciding who to choose.
If you have a tax problem that needs resolving, you want a CPA who will help you work out a reasonable strategy to resolve things. However, you should be cautious of anything that sounds like scaremongering.
Remember the statute of limitations - as long as you filed a tax return on time, and in good faith, then in most cases, it is closed after 3 years.
The statute of limitations is 6 years if you omitted 25% of your adjusted gross income;
There are some specific additional exceptions, and some states don't exactly follow federal rules for their taxes, but this is the general principle.
If you have filed fraudulent returns, the statute of limitations never runs out. However, it is very unusual for the IRS to prove fraud.
Tax attorneys are normally needed for more serious cases where there is wilful evasion of tax and/or fraud.