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I am not US citizen yet. I am an employee. I recently consulted a tax attorney who provided me with the following questionnaire to calculate my tax deductions. I tried Turbo tax which 1/4th tax refund, as compared with what tax attorney calculated. I am skeptical about his methods. Following is the summary of questions asked. Do you think these are reasonable?

  1. Cell phone expense per month. Was this reimbursed by your employer?
  2. Internet expense per month. Was this reimbursed by your employer?
  3. Daily commute to the office a. By car – miles to/fro: b. Public Transportation – cost of bus/train/taxi:
  4. Rent & Utilities per month. If on a sharing basis, then list only your portion:
  5. New laptop/PC purchased in 2014 – cost:
  6. Medical expenses not reimbursed by your employer:
  7. Foreign Tax Credit – this is designed for taxes paid to USA & your home country on the same income (double taxation): a. Supporting documents required, e.g., Foreign payslips, USA payslips, Form 16
  8. Moving expenses while relocating to a new job/client:
  9. Tax preparation fees paid in 2014 for 2013 filing:
  10. Home Loan Interest Expense (in the USA or abroad). Supporting documents required, e.g., tax certificate from the bank or Form 1098:
  11. Professional Training and Certifications:
  12. Tuition & Fees for higher education. Either in the USA or abroad:
  13. Student Loan Interest. Either in the USA or abroad:
  14. Charitable donations:
  15. Dependents other than spouse & children (dependent means you provide them with over 50% of their living expenses):

I have assets abroad as part of joint accounts, and I actively invest(via the joint account, loans) with my mother - who has is active in real estate market - but the deeds are in my mother's name, and my mother also pays taxes for all assets/purchases. I was told that I don't need to file any taxes for the foreign income as my mother already files taxes.

  • Well, where are the differences when you compare the return prepared by this person and the return prepared by TurboTax? You need to look at those differences to see whether he did things correctly. – user102008 Feb 17 '16 at 8:08
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The questions are reasonable. All end up being potential deductions. However, for most, if not all, you won't get any actual benefits.

What's more interesting is not the questions, it's what the attorney (really? Attorney?) did with the answers. Almost none of these (at least of the first several) are deductions available to an employee, although most would be reasonable for a self-employed.

  • Thanks for the quick response. I am an employee, and not self employed. I found his reasoning dubious, and asked him to clarify. He named a few clauses and told me he knows what he is doing. – pto Feb 17 '16 at 3:35
  • @pulkittomar well... You can ask some more specific questions so that we could affirm/contest, but the questions themselves are, well, reasonable. – littleadv Feb 17 '16 at 3:37
  • Thanks. I was a particularly concerned with rent and utilities being deductible. – pto Feb 17 '16 at 3:41
  • @pto that would be for a home office deduction. Again, on its own the questions are reasonable. For you, I'm afraid, these would not apply. – littleadv Feb 17 '16 at 6:32
  • If you have foreign(to the US) income in a joint account, you may need to include it in your US tax return... And you'll need to file FBAR reports at the same time... – DJohnM Feb 17 '16 at 6:58

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