ACA Launches Online Return Preparer Directory
TODAY ACA IS LAUNCHING ITS ONLINE TAX RETURN PREPARER DIRECTORY AND YOU’RE IN IT!
American Citizens Abroad, Inc. (ACA) is launching today the first-ever online Directory of tax return preparers and others servicing Americans overseas. You are listed with just basic contact information, unless as part of the beta test you have already upgraded. ACA invites you to review your listing, make any corrections and choose to add information and features that best suit you.
The Directory is easily found at www.acareturnpreparerdirectory.com, where is it is available to users/taxpayers looking for help and to preparers and businesses that work with preparers. It’s also conveniently accessible by ACA Members and others on ACA’s website — http://www.americansabroad.org.
This innovative, new Directory serves Americans overseas and others needing specialized US tax and similar advice. The Directory is being announced this Monday to the major media outlets and supported with an aggressive marketing effort—all at a time when taxpayers face the June 15th Form 1040 deadline and the June 30th FBAR deadline. This year, these deadlines fall in the midst ofincreased IRS and Department of Justice enforcement activities, implementation of FATCA by foreign financial institutions around the world and wide-spread confusion in the wake of the Loving case, invalidating the IRS’s regulation of tax return preparers.
There are an estimated 6.8 million American citizens living abroad, according to the US Department of State (January 2013 figures). Approximately 450,000 tax returns claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (2011 figures). In addition, significant numbers of US citizens, corporations, partnerships, resident aliens, and nonresident aliens must file special US tax forms, such as, Forms 8938, Foreign Bank Account Reports, Forms 5471, to name a few. FinCEN Form 114 (electronic FBAR) presents unique problems for many.
As ACA has learned from its Members, the number of return preparers is dropping. According to the IRS Research, Analysis & Statistics/Office of Research (June 20, 2013), the preparer industry is growing more concentrated. The long-term trend is toward fewer preparers. There is a shift toward larger volume preparers. There is increased standardized among preparers and how they identify themselves. ACA believes this is due to the inherent complexities of return preparation, the frequency of changes in the rules and the increasing risks for return preparers. On top of all this, competition is growing.
WE KNOW TAXPAYERS ARE LOOKING FOR HELP
ACA would say many are desperately looking for help, because we receive calls and e-mails every day. For years, Americans thought little about taxes and many simply did not know about all of the tax reporting and FBAR filing requirements. That has changed!
ACA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization incorporated in Delaware. It's beginnings trace back over 40 years. It has Members in over 60 countries. It’s supported by a network of Country Contacts. ACA, known as the "Voice of Americans Overseas", is the premier advocacy organization for Americans overseas. Americans living abroad know and trust ACA as a source for help on difficult issues and support in Washington, DC and elsewhere.
Americans abroad need a comprehensive, reliable resource for finding return preparers and similar professional advisors. Identifying and getting information about advisors is difficult. There is no one place they can look. There is “word-of-mouth”; some of the American Embassies maintain lists; and that is about it. The ACA Directory is intended to fill the void.
The Directory is free-of-charge for all users, whether or not they are Members of ACA. It can easily be found through the ACA homepage or by going directly to the Directory’s website.
Preparers and others – like you – can list and provide a range of information at zero or very reasonable cost. All holders of Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) that we have identified as working with Americans overseas are automatically listed. This listing is at the most simple level ("Bronze Level"), and there is no charge. Most firms and individuals will want to make available additional information; there are several levels of listing and choices as the other features, all which can be customized as desired. You choose; you write the descriptions; you change it anytime and as many times as you like—24/7.
YOU’RE PROBABLY ALREADY LISTED! REVIEW YOUR LISTING, MAKE ANY CORRECTIONS AND UPGRADE AS YOU WISH.
Use the ACA Directory to reach a targeted group – Americans abroad and others – and market your services as best suits your business. You can list as an individual or an organization. Publicize information, such as, contact information, credentials, events that you may be conducting our participating in, informative articles for prospective clients, and the like. A quick look at the Directory will show all the possibilities. You can tie to your blog, track traffic to your listing and more.
While the Directory builds upon the IRS’s list of Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) holders, it goes far beyond this. ACA has solicited names from our Members and friends who have helped build ACA. The Directory can be used not only by return preparers that have a PTIN but also others that are involved in the tax preparation business. They might be attorneys, accountants or investment advisors, who assist taxpayers and work closely with, and maybe refer out, the return and FBAR preparation work. Or they might be providers of return preparation software.
Our goal is to make ACA’s Tax Return Preparer Directory the #1 source for tax help for Americans abroad.
HERE'S HOW TO LIST.
If you have a PTIN, you are probably already listed at the lowest level and need to review, and perhaps upgrade, your listing. If you don't appear in the Directory, create a listing NOW.
Go to the Directory website at http://www.acareturnpreparerdirectory.com; click on Sign up | Login and Sign up now; complete Sign Up with a new Account. You will be asked to activate your account and receive an email to do this. Having created your Account, you can make your choices – by going to List With Us – about level of Listing (Diamond, Gold, Silver, or Bronze), Banners (size and placement on page), Classifieds (Special Offerings, such as help with Streamlined disclosures or amended FBARs ), Events (an Open House to discuss FBAR vs. Form 8938 filing?), Publications (Articles, such as your mesmerizing introduction to FATCA!). It’s entirely up to you!
You will be asked to pay. How much depends upon the number of features chosen. Early indications are people like the Diamond listing and either the large Banner appearing at Top or at Bottom. But it’s your choice. Payment is by PayPal, which is quick and easy.
FINALLY, . . .
Posted on the Directory, under Insights and Tips, are a few articles of general interest. More are in the works. These focus on "Nitty-Gritty" subjects. With permission, we will reproduce articles written by Preparers and others. Got any suggestions?
We are pulling together an Advisory Committee on the Directory comprised of users/taxpayers and preparers and others – like you. We're looking for ways to improve the Directory. Please give us your thoughts. And, if you want to get more involved, volunteer to sit on this Committee. We intend to "rotate" members on a regular basis.
In a way, ACA’s Directory belongs to its users and those who list. We hope you like it! And we hope that you will want to get more involved.
Charles M. Bruce
Legal Counsel-ACA / Editor