YANMA (you are not my accountant), but...
August 14, 2017 11:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm a freelancer/independent contractor, and a dual U.S./Canadian citizen. I now make money from clients in both countries, deposited to bank accounts in both countries. How the heck should I approach taxes? Snowflakes inside.

In previous years my freelance clients have all been in the same country as me, wherever I was living at the time. This year I've taken on clients from both countries. My primary country of residence is the U.S. but I still maintain a Canadian mailing address and make regular trips to Canada. To make things more complicated, my Canadian client mails Canadian cheques to my U.S. address, which I deposit electronically to my Canadian bank account--I then convert and transfer the funds. Yes, this would obviously be easier if I were simply dealing with them in terms of U.S. funds deposited directly to my U.S. account; I'm working on it.

I wasn't an accounting whiz to begin with, and am really confused now. Would the best course of action be to file taxes in each country for monies earned in that country? Is it time to see a real accountant? And what if I don't make enough this year to justify that expense?

Thanks for any advice you can give on this extremely boring and frustrating topic.
posted by Miss T.Horn to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Accountant, now. I freelance without the international issue and I would never dream of attempting to figure this out on my own. If you screw this up now and no one notices until down the line... think of what your liability would be then. In not one but two countries.

My accountant ALWAYS saves me way more money than their fee, you can afford it.
posted by bradbane at 1:02 AM on August 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Recommending Brass Taxes Accountants here, I'm a freelancer and they're Accountants/creative professionals so they understand my concerns more than most traditional accountants.
posted by Geameade at 5:22 AM on August 15, 2017

My husband is a UK citizen / US green card holder who freelances and has clients in both countries. I would absolutely get an accountant and would not try to do this on your own. We found ours just by asking our local subreddit for recommendations of firms that have experience with international reporting and it has been well worth it.
posted by cpatterson at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2017

Definitely time to see an accountant, as others have mentioned. I had a long conversation with a Canadian tax lawyer not that long ago and she said that Canadian tax law is tricky and depends on where you're doing your work.

Speaking as someone who's been a Canadian freelancer before, having clients from all over the world as well as Canada isn't generally a big deal -- you just need to do the currency conversion for any foreign funds. What makes this a tough one is the dual citizenship and possible dual residency. I think the fact that you maintain a Canadian mailing address is what's going to throw a wrench in the works, which is why I'm also recommending an accountant.
posted by juliebug at 6:59 AM on August 15, 2017

Thanks, everyone. I'm going to look into accountants. Also, if anyone has recs for Chicago-based accountants who might be able to deal with this, that would be so appreciated. Looks like Brass Taxes is Brooklyn-based.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2017

A big proportion of Canadian accountants can file both your Canadian and U.S. taxes. Far fewer U.S. accountants will.
posted by grouse at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2017

My partner (and fellow MeFite) is an accountant who handles this sort of thing. He's not Chicago-based, but he's accustomed to working with clients remotely.
posted by veggieboy at 6:45 PM on August 15, 2017

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