Exposing the Hidden Underworld of Expat Tax Preparation


Suppose you just moved a thousand miles to a new town. Would you start searching for the cheapest doctor around? The cheapest dentist? How about the cheapest restaurants or the cheapest gym?

Probably not.

I think we’ve all cheaped-out on something at one point in time.

Whether it’s a computer, phone, TV, or car – have you ever been satisfied with your experience after buying the cheapest version of anything?

I doubt it.

Most people recognise that the least expensive goods and services are pretty much always disappointing. Yet, there is a curious trend when it comes to taxation – many people fail to apply the same reasoning.

I blame the off-the-shelf tax software companies. A lot of people can answer some basic questions and file their own return; especially if they are a salaried employee. These programs oversimplify the tax code and encourage the average person to mistakenly devalue the work done by tax professionals.

Fortunately, most expats recognize their need for an expert. Rather than filing on their own, they take the next cheapest option – they search around for the cheapest expat tax preparer.

$485 for an expat tax return?! Amazing … right?

Nope – that’s downright scary.

The phrase “you get what you pay for” was invented for expat tax preparation industry.

Here, I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret – many of the cheapest options for expat tax preparation are even worse than you might imagine.

After you fill out some basic information, your “tax profile” gets posted to an internal job board where independent contractors of varying skill level, education, licensure, and experience bid on your tax return.

Take a wild guess who wins the bid.

Yep, the cheapest.

The cheapest bidding independent contractor increases the profits for the company charging you $485.

Go cheap with your expat tax return and some person you’ve never talked to will do 99.9% of the work. They’ll submit the return to the company you found online and a “senior partner” will give it his attention for fifteen minutes (if you’re lucky) and sign it.

Customers believe that a senior partner has spent hours and hours pouring over the details and investigating everything. Sadly, this just isn’t true.

The Esquire Group has welcomed many clients fleeing these high-volume tax prep mills. We find errors on every single return they produce. I’m not kidding – Every. Single. Return.

Here’s the kicker: the IRS holds you personally liable for the information on your tax return. Unless there is fraud or negligence (good luck proving that), you’re going to suffer the consequences of any mistakes or errors.

What happens when you cheap out on something like a TV and finally confess to making an error?

Well, if you’re like me… you go all-out the next time. No expense spared.

That’s why we proudly offer our Concierge Tax Service. We cater to people that went cheap and are looking for a completely different experience. Of course, we’re also happy to work with people that want to skip the disappointing experience by starting with the best.

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