We all think we know the answer ….
We often assume “ an expatriate tax advisor is just an accountant who prepares tax returns (UK, US, you name it) once a year. For the remainder of the year, he/she creates tax return questionnaires…. end of discussion ”… Well, there is far more to it than this.
The functions of an expatriate advisor
Would you believe that an expatriate tax advisor has these functions :
- Fully support clients when they move abroad, for tax.
- Advise upon all tax re-entry issues for tax in US, UK, many other states.
- International payroll
- Ensure double taxation is avoided.
- Manage your social security (National Insurance, FICA).
- Finds all the relevant tax reliefs – and 100’s exist globally.
The benefits of using an expatriate tax advisor
Are there any benefits that an expatriate tax advisor brings ? There are 40 or more additional areas of skill that we might boast… but today we do not want to write one long list, and so we will stop this roll call soon.
- Analyse and assist with employment law and contracts.
- Discuss HR matters such as employee rights, expectations and rewarding people with appropriate compensation eg stocks.
- Arrange for appropriate immigration advice in different locations.
- Support clients with setting up new companies.
- Advise on state benefits eg pensions, child benefit, maternity pay, paternity leave … an endless list.
- Analyse the bank accounts and restructure for tax purposes.
Which life skills does an expatriate tax advisor also have ?
Does an expatriate tax advisor have soft skills based on life experience ?
Yes, many. In my 27 years as an expatriate tax advisor, I have been available for phonecalls at midnight and 2 am ( for those in Australia). In 2022, we have worked with clients to overcome (stress and anxiety over) endless Royal Mail strikes in the UK. It impacts HMRC processes. We have responded to unhappy husbands and wives who do not like the host country that their spouse has moved them to.
Our clients also had massive travel problems during the peak of Covid and we were there to soothe, calm, and manage taxation.
In addition, most expatriates experience culture shock and the need for your new friends in a new country. We are well connected to local support networks eg embassies and British Council offices. The only area where we don’t assist clients is moving pets overseas, and quarantine rules for snakes for example ! Not my forte, but of course we know a “man who can” as the British say. We know the relevant organisations.
Do you have any tips for a new expatriate ?
When I was seconded to Poland, I focused upon these issues for tax. I put all of my records in one place on the PC hard drive eg payroll data, work permits, details of my UK rents and bank interest. This became a massive help later on, when working with my expatriate tax advisor.
The other areas that I focused on, to keep my sanity were these. If I was ever invited to any social by locals, I always attended the event. I made sure that my circle of friends was a mixture of expats and Polish people. I also took language classes every week which made a massive difference to my positive experience.