- What is the process?
- Who and where is OTS?
- How do I contact OTS?
- Is OTS open year-round?
- What documentation do I need to submit?
- How should I submit my documentation?
- How do I obtain an account on the OTS website?
- How do I upload documents to ShareFile?
- How will I receive my tax return?
- How much does OTS charge?
- How do I pay OTS?
- Do you give general financial advice?
- Do you do business taxes as well?
- Do you do taxes for military personnel overseas?
- What if I did my own taxes and just want you to check them?
- Help OTS help you!
- Technical Issues (Help with downloading, scanning, uploading, and faxing)
What is the process?
- Make contact with OTS. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If we are able to accept you as a client, OTS will email you back to confirm, and will create an online account for you.
- Complete a questionnaire.
- Upload or fax questionnaire and all financial paperwork to OTS.
- Email OTS to tell us you’re ready for processing.
- Answer questions via e-mail about your tax situation.
- Receive, review, sign, and return firm contract with price quote.
- Receive and review your tax return.
- Sign and mail if filing a paper copy. Sign and return approval form if e-filing.
- Pay OTS for its services.
Who and where is OTS?
Overseas Tax Services (OTS) is a division of Mbondou LLC, which is a Limited Liability Company registered with the State of Vermont. OTS is operated by Kim Genzer, an Enrolled Agent* who has spent nearly half her life living overseas — as a Foreign Service kid, Peace Corps Volunteer, and as the spouse of an international educator. Now living in Vermont, Kim has most recently lived in New York City; Kingston, Jamaica; Lusaka, Zambia; and Warsaw, Poland. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from New York University with a concentration in Finance.
*An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals.
How do I contact OTS?
- Email is by far the best way to reach us. Email us and we will respond as quickly as possible.
- Telephone: If you wish to speak by phone, please set up a time via email first. The US phone number is +1-603-369-4884 but will go to voicemail unless we have previously set up a phone appointment. Please note the time zone! We are on the East Coast of the US.
- Skype: If you’re on Skype, you can Skype us at OverseasTaxServices.
- Fax: Our fax number is also a US number, +1-603-589-7102. We receive this using a service provided by eFax.
Is OTS open year-round?
Almost. OTS is closed from approximately June 20 to August 31 every year. We may also be on occasional short breaks at other times of the year. If we are out of email contact, an automatic reply will inform you of when we will return.
What documentation do I need to submit?
Once you have established initial contact with OTS and been accepted as a client, we will ask you to fill out a questionnaire in order to gain a complete picture of your tax situation. If you are filing jointly with a spouse, only one questionnaire needs to be completed for the couple. In addition to this questionnaire, you will also need to submit copies of your supporting financial information (W-2 or income statements, 1099’s, 1098’s, 1095’s, K-1’s, etc.). New clients need to submit a copy of their prior year’s tax return as well. Do not submit receipts for any deductible expenses (charitable contributions, rental property expenses, business travel, etc.). Keep them for your records, but just submit a statement with totals for each category of expense. The questionnaire will walk you through this.
How should I submit my documentation?
OTS is proudly an “e-business” and relies on the Internet for the transfer of all documentation. International mail is often slow and unreliable. You can upload your documentation securely to your ShareFile account on our website. Alternatively, you can fax it to us at our US fax number. See Technical Issues below for help and suggestions on best ways of submitting your paperwork. If you have thick stacks of paper to submit which are very difficult to fax or scan, contact OTS to discuss where and how to submit them. If you do end up mailing anything, make sure you send copies, not originals!
How do I obtain an account on the OTS website?
Once you have made contact with OTS and have been accepted as a client, we will set up a secure ShareFile account for you on the website. You will receive an email containing an activation link for your secure file area. Use the link to log into your account and create a password. You can then download a blank questionnaire to complete and start uploading files to your secure folder. After the initial activation visit, please log in using the Login page on this website.
How do I upload documents to my ShareFile account?
Once you have an account, you can start uploading files to your ShareFile folder. If you haven’t updated your password recently, ShareFile may require you to do so before allowing you to log in. Logging in will take you to your folders, which will later display a list of all documents you have uploaded or which OTS has uploaded for you to retrieve. To upload a file:
- Click on the folder with your name.
- Then click on the folder called “Tax Year 2018 Files.”
- Hover on the blue circle with the plus-sign and then click “Upload.”
- In the next screen, you can either click “Browse files,” or simply drag your files into the area that says “Drag files here.” (You can upload multiple files at once.) Then click the blue “Upload” button. Depending on the size of the files and the speed of your internet connection, this process can take just a moment or quite a long time. If it is taking too long, you may wish to upload files one at a time.
- When the files have finished uploading, you will be taken back to the “Tax Year 2018 Files” folder and the list will display all of your uploaded files.
- You can view, download, or delete the files in your folder at your convenience.
- When you have uploaded all the documentation you think we need, you must email us to let us know that your files are ready for us to review. There is an email link you can use for this purpose on the Login page
How will I receive my tax return?
You will receive a copy of your tax return as a PDF computer file to download from your ShareFile folder. It will be saved in the folder called “Tax Year 2018 Files FROM OTS.” If possible, and with your agreement, your actual return will be filed electronically with the IRS and the appropriate state tax office (if applicable). If your return cannot be filed electronically for some reason, you will need to print and sign the PDF file and mail it to the appropriate tax office. Instructions will be provided.
How much does OTS charge?
Our charges are based on a price per form. Thus the fee for your return depends on the complexity of your return. Go to the Prices page of this website to see the specific form charges, as well as various special offers and notices. Once you have submitted your questionnaire and associated financial documents, OTS will determine which forms will be required and prepare a letter of agreement with a firm price quote. You thus have the opportunity to know your fee in advance. If later you provide further information which requires additional work by OTS, your fee may increase. In this case, you will be notified of the change and given the opportunity to approve it or withdraw your file. Occasionally, in working through your return, we’ll determine that an anticipated form is not in fact necessary. In this case, we may be able to reduce your fee at the time of billing.
How do I pay OTS?
OTS accepts payment by check, PayPal, or bank transfer.
Checks must be in US dollars, drawn on a US bank. Instructions on where to send a check will be provided at the time of billing.
PayPal is an online payment service which allows you to pay by credit card or bank transfer. It is a large and well-established Internet commerce site, offering secure Internet connections and promising safe handling of your transaction. However, like many large financial institutions with a presence on the Internet, it can be subject to hackers, spoof attempts, and other such problems. You are advised to review PayPal’s security policies in deciding whether or not to use their service. OTS is not responsible for any problems you encounter in conducting business through PayPal.
Bank Transfers can be made to our US bank account. Account information will be provided upon request.
Do you give general financial advice?
No. OTS is a tax preparation firm only. We do not offer financial or investment advice. We do, however, have colleagues we can recommend in this field if you are interested.
Do you do business taxes as well?
No. OTS specializes in individual income tax. But if you are self-employed with a small, uncomplicated business (sole proprietorship), we can probably take care of that for you.
Do you do taxes for military personnel overseas?
No. We regret that military personnel have their own particular set of special rules and requirements, which are not currently the focus of OTS.
What if I did my own taxes and I just want you to check them?
OTS does not generally offer this service. If you engage OTS to prepare your taxes, you will receive a professionally prepared tax return with our signature on it. By law, if we charge you for tax preparation, we are required to sign your return. In addition, we often find that checking a client’s return turns out to be more time-consuming than starting from scratch, as we must not only work through all of your financial documents but also track down the sources of any discrepancies or errors that we find in what you have done. There is thus no discount for preparing returns that you have already worked on yourself.
Help OTS help you!
- Start early. The earlier you submit your materials, the faster and better we can help you. You’ll also save money! We offer discounts for early-birds and charge a rush fee for late submissions. Living overseas, you may have difficulty rounding up the necessary information. The earlier you start, the better chance you have of meeting deadlines and preventing stress. In addition, OTS closes from approximately June 20 to August 31. As the June 15 overseas filing deadline approaches, we become less and less able to accommodate late-comers, especially if you have any unusual or complicated tax issues to address.
- Submit everything at once. Try to submit all of your paperwork at once and in an organized fashion. If you send bits and pieces over several weeks, important information is likely to be left out. We can’t prepare your return until we have all of the information, so there is no advantage to sending it piecemeal.
- Answer all questions. Once you submit your paperwork, we will often email back a number of additional questions for you. It is most helpful if you answer ALL the questions in a single return email. We will generally not start work on your return until all of the questions have been answered.
- Identify currencies. If some of your financial information is not in US dollars, be sure to make clear what currency is being used on each document and in any emails you write. This is especially important in countries that also have “dollars” (Canada, Singapore, etc.) where the symbol doesn’t make it clear that we’re dealing with a foreign currency.
- Translate foreign documents. If some of your documentation is in a language other than English or French, please provide a clear translation. Don’t make us guess!
Technical Issues (Help with downloading, scanning, uploading, and faxing)
- Downloading files from OTS: The questionnaires are currently available as Microsoft Excel files. Your completed tax return will be sent to you as a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7 or higher, which you can download for free from here, although in most cases this program is already on your computer.
- Troubleshooting: If, when you click on the questionnaire, it opens within your browser window, rather than downloading, click on the little disk icon near the upper left to save the file onto your computer.
- Scanning: Scanners can be quirky, and vary in features and methods of use, but here are some tips:
- Don’t use the very lowest resolution. Financial documents often have very small print; numbers may be blurry or unreadable if your resolution is too low. A resolution of 300dpi should be fine.
- Don’t use excessively high resolution. This will just make your file sizes unnecessarily large, which may cause problems in uploading your files to your account.
- If your scanner can scan and save multi-page documents, feel free to send multiple pages in one file.
- File types: Don’t worry too much about what file type to save in. We have access to both PC and Mac computers, and can probably read whatever default format your scanner uses. Popular formats are .PDF, .TIF, .JPG, and .MDI, all of which are fine. There is no need to paste the files into a Microsoft Word document, as this often causes more problems than it solves.
- Before sending to OTS, open the files on your computer to see that they look clear and have scanned completely.
- Name your files logically. e.g. “Smith questionnaire” is more helpful than “scan1”.
- Uploading: Be sure to email us once all of your documentation and the completed questionnaire have been uploaded. We won’t know you’re ready for processing unless you tell us!
- Faxing: Fax machines are even quirkier than scanners, and the quality is often less than desirable. Scanning and uploading is preferable, but if you must fax:
- Use the highest quality setting on your fax machine
- State on the cover sheet the total number of pages being faxed
- Number each page
- Email a list of what was included on each page of the fax. Often one or more pages don’t go through. If we don’t know what was supposed to be there, we won’t know that something is missing.
We will email you a confirmation soon after receiving your documentation, whether you upload it or fax it. If you don’t receive confirmation within a few days, please email us to be sure we’ve received it.