US expat living in UK - US tax advice
March 6, 2015 2:58 PM   Subscribe

How do I find someone I can trust to get US tax advice?

I'm hopefully taking advantage of the IRS streamlined program to file back US taxes for 3 years and Fbar forms for 6 years.

I have been a full time UK employee, not self-employed, since I moved to the UK 20 years ago and have been happily paying UK taxes. I stupidly didn't realize I had to keep filing US tax forms, or other associated paperwork, until recently, and I am totally panicking about this.

My question - I want to know if my UK employer provided pension is a US qualified pension plan, because I'd like to not be taxed on my employee contributions to my UK pension if possible.

What's the best way to get this question answered? I am not expecting free tax advice from the Internet :) but if someone could recommend a UK based tax advisor, or even better point me to a free IRS resource that explains it, I'd be so grateful.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I know someone from this firm that's quite good. A lot of crossborder stuff, lotsa OVDI junk. I don't think they're in London, though. And then there's always the big 4 firms.

Long story short: the answer will turn on whether this particular plan (and there are several variants of retirement plan) qualifies under the treaty.
posted by jpe at 5:15 PM on March 6, 2015

Don't use the Internet for your own advice-- not even from the IRS web site. As an expat for the last 18 years I can tell you with certainty you need to get an expert to help you do this. There's a group called American Citizens Abroad, and they have a directory of tax preparers which may be able to help you. You can also go to groups like Democrats or Republicans Abroad (pick your flavor) in the UK and ask for advice from their members.

But if you have to back file and there's any question of a pension which does or does not qualify under the treaties you really need a professional to make sure it goes okay. Good luck!
posted by frumiousb at 5:33 PM on March 6, 2015

Since you mention having been there for over 20 years now; assuming you plan on staying for most of your life in the UK, you might want to consider saving yourself double taxation by renouncing your U.S. citizenship. A large amount of citizens abroad are doing that more and more recently since the U.S. started aggressively going after tax money from citizens abroad a few years ago. It may be worth discussing with a tax professional depending on your future plans.
posted by rancher at 8:59 PM on March 6, 2015

Firstly, don't panic; there are so many people in your shoes that the process for filing back tax forms gets easier and friendlier all the time. When I first realized I was in this situation they were still making people call the Criminal Investigation department just to get information on how to proceed. Secondly, search around locally for a tax professional who has prepared US tax returns for expats. The streamlined program has been around for a few years now, so you may even be able to find someone with experience preparing a streamlined package. It will cost a bit, but it's important this gets done properly. The forms themselves are tricky from an expats perspective. Good luck!
posted by Koko at 9:03 PM on March 6, 2015

If you'd like a recommendation for a London-based accountancy firm that specialises in US tax issues, feel free to DM me.
posted by meerkatty at 11:08 PM on March 6, 2015

Do NOT give up your US citizenship just to avoid filling US tax returns. You most likely do not and will not owe any money to the IRS unless you are making the kind of money where hiring an accountant to do your returns is a trifling expense. In the unlikely event the UK tanks, or the more likely event you want to retire in the US or enjoy an extended stay (such as to caste for an ailing relative) you'll be glad to still have that passport. And the renunciation fee is now over $2000.
posted by K.P. at 11:46 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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