US Taxes 101

help understand certain basic aspects of U.S. tax law



Alain Demeestere
Los Angeles

I moved with my young family from my native France to the US over twenty years ago. I was offered the position of financial director of the newly created subsidiary of Matra Hachette, a large multinational corporation.

When tax season came around, I found myself lost and confused by the US tax code. I had to hire an accounting firm to prepare my company tax returns as well as my own. I signed the returns blindly praying the accountant in charge knew what he was doing. It turned out fine but the frustration I felt ignited in me a strong desire to learn and understand the US tax code as much as I could. I spend the last twenty years deepening my knowledge in business and individual US taxes.

What I have found is that though the format of US tax returns is different from the French one’s I was familiar with, the content is similar. Over the years, with increased globalization and international trade, the tax treatments of specific activities and operations have become harmonized. Of course, the history, mentality, and political agenda of each country create some variation. But both codes are extremely complex, with multitudes of exceptions, exemptions and deductions.

The US tax code is nearly 75 000 pages long, which is 200 times longer than it was a century ago. Needless to say, it is extremely complex, leading to frustration, tax evasion (intentional or not) and errors. Businesses have tax professionals do their tax planning and prepare their tax returns. Likewise, most US residents need to hire a tax expert to prepare their 1040.

Everybody agrees that a thorough tax reform is due. The question is the willingness of our political leaders to instigate a much-needed (though politically suicidal) reform.

My credentials: I am an Enrolled Agent, which is the highest credential awarded by the IRS. This gives me the right to represent any taxpayer in nearly any U.S. state for any tax matter and before any IRS office. In this capacity, I am authorized to do tax planning and prepare returns for individuals, corporations, non-profits, partnerships and estates. As an EA, I also adhere to strict ethical guidelines and continuing education requirements.

I also hold a B.A. in Economics, a B.A. in Accounting and an MBA from the University of Paris 2.

I also write a blog about U.S. tax law in French.

I would love to hear from you! Contact us via this form if you have any questions or comments related to tax matters. The more details you include about your particular situation, the easier it will be for me to help you. I generally respond within one to two business days.If you need more in-depth help or would like to work with me on a regular basis, let me know.

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