An Interview with Kevin Costello, CPA and Overseas Tax Return Expert
Kevin Costello, a CPA and key member of the Greenback Expat Tax Services team, describes his background and his methods for helping customers with their expat tax questions and overseas tax returns. With 15 years of taxation experience, Kevin provides a wealth of overseas tax return knowledge and expertise to each of his customers, and takes pride in his ability to explain even the most complex tax requirements in easy-to-understand language.
As one customer remarked, “Kevin has exceeded my expectations. He always answers email and goes beyond the call. His professionalism is unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with. He acts like we are family!”
An Interview with Kevin Costello, CPA
Hi, this is Josh Huber with Greenback Expat Tax Services, and today I have with me Kevin Costello, one of our qualified expat expert CPAs. How are you today, Kevin?
I’m doing well!
Glad to hear it! Now, Kevin, you have over 15 years of taxation experience and have dealt with a variety of tax issues. What do you think is most difficult for your customers to understand?
Well, Josh, the federal tax code is very complex, and it’s constantly changing. My clients engage me to make sure they take advantage of everything the code has to offer to minimize their tax liability. They place their trust in me so that they don’t have to worry about understanding it. If they do have a question about something tax-related, I explain it to them in language they can understand and encourage them to ask questions if they still don’t understand the topic.
Some of the topics I’ve explained to clients include the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit. If you read through the IRS Publication 54, titled Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, the language can get quite technical. And even though the various IRS publications are supposed to help people understand, when you start to get into complex situations, a taxpayer can have questions that publications do not explain very well.
Having read through these publications, I can see how people would have additional questions. Now, in addition to translating tax code, one of your specialties is Subchapter S corporations. Can you tell us a little about your corporate return experience?
Sure. In this day and age, of some people electing to start their own businesses, many are organizing as corporations to take advantage of limited liability. And since profits are low at the beginning, it is advantageous to pay taxes at individual rates rather than corporate rates, that organizing as a Subchapter S corporation allows an individual to take advantage of.
When a client comes to me and says they have started their own company, one of the first things I ask them is if they have organized as a corporation in order to obtain the limited liability that it offers. Then I take a look at the net income that the company generated and determine if it would be to their advantage to take an S corporation election to make sure they don’t pay more taxes than they have to.
With some of those recommendations, I would definitely leave it up to an expert. How do you stay on top of the ever-changing tax code for business and personal overseas tax returns?
Well, being both a CPA and an Enrolled Agent, I’m required to obtain Continuing Professional Education (or CPE) credits every year. The majority of my annual earnings are generated from personal and business income taxes, so I try to obtain my CPE credits in the area of taxation. As a CPA, I am a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (or AICPA) as well as my state society, the Illinois State CPA Society. Both organizations offer taxation CPE credits as well as publications where I can keep on top of current developments in taxation. I also attend the IRS’s annual Nationwide Tax Forum, which is a three-day conference dealing with nothing but federal income tax. The seminars have a variety of topics hosted by experts from within the IRS as well as the profession in general, and I try to attend the seminars that are most helpful to my clients.
With so many changes to the tax code every year, I’m sure these seminars and education credits really help you stay on top of everything. Well, Kevin, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today, and remember, viewers: Kevin and our team of expat expert accountants are on hand to help with any of your tax questions or to help with your US expat tax preparation. Thank you, Kevin, and thanks for watching.
Greenback offers resources and services to help you:
- Learn more about overseas tax return requirements.
- Discover more ideas on how to limit your tax liability by following Expatriate Tax Return Savings Tips on our website or by talking to one of our expat tax experts.
- File amended tax returns and forms easily, accurately, and in a timely manner.
If you have any more questions about overseas tax returns, federal tax codes, and their implications for you, or if you’d like to enlist our help in completing your returns, please contact us.