What services do you provide?
See the “Services” page for a detailed listing of our Canadian and U.S. tax services.
We focus on providing U.S. and Canadian tax services to individuals and businesses with a cross-border aspect to their situation. What that means is that we will only accept tax advisory and compliance assignments where they involve cross-border or international complications. These complications usually arise where an individual or business has obligations in more than one country at the same time.
What services do you not provide?
Our mission is to offer cross-border tax consulting and compliance services. As a tax consultancy, we do not do bookkeeping or financial statement preparation. In addition, we do not accept tax engagements unless they involve a cross-border dimension.
Why do you restrict your acceptance of Canadian tax engagements?
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Because the U.S. and Canadian tax seasons overlap and the Canadian tax filing season is so short, we would be overwhelmed if we accepted the Canadian tax work of all our U.S. tax clients.
- It’s part of our marketing strategy. We try to complement, not compete with, other accounting firms that focus exclusively on either U.S. or Canadian taxation. This is a big source of our growth and referrals.
Don’t worry – we’ll do Canadian work if we’re the ones who should be doing it. But don’t be surprised if we recommend that we partner with another firm to serve you well.
Do you have to do my Canadian tax to do my U.S. tax return?
No. We encourage our clients, where possible, to have their Canadian returns done by a different accountant unless this isn’t feasible. We’ll be honest with you and tell you when they should be done together by the same firm.
Can you do a tax return for U.S. taxpayers who live the United States?
Yes, we can. But see our answer to the next question.
When should I use an U.S. based accountant instead of Unbordered?
U.S. resident taxpayers are usually more efficiently served by a local accountant because that person is aware of the state and local tax laws in the state of residence. However, certain U.S. resident taxpayers who receive foreign income or who maintain foreign ties while resident in the United States may be better served by Unbordered than by a local accountant who has no international tax expertise.
Would you be able to assist my U.S. tax advisor with respect to cross-border issues?
Yes, we can. We are quite willing to work co-operatively with other U.S. and Canadian accountants in providing service to our mutual clients.
I do not live near one of your offices. Can you still do my tax return?
Yes, we can. We can interact with you electronically or by courier/mail. We create a web portal for each new client through which we can exchange documents in a secure environment. We also have DocuSign built into the portal so that signature documents can be signed electronically.
How can I meet with you?
When we send you a web link to book a meeting with one of our staff, you will be given three options for how you can meet with us:
- If you live in Nova Scotia, you can visit our office in Halifax to meet with us in person
- You can book a video meeting (which takes place in Microsoft Teams)
- You can book a phone call
How can I get records to you?
You can send your records to us in the following ways:
- You can send electronic records via your client portal (this will be set up for you when you become a client)
- You can deliver paper records to our office, in person or by mail
How can I get the client copies of my tax filings?
We can distribute your copies of our work products as either a PDF, a paper package or both.
What kind of steps do you take to protect my personal information?
We take the protection of your personal information very seriously. In choosing our software providers, we only deal with world-class companies with strong data protection, such as Microsoft, Dropbox and Wolters Kluwer.
We do not send sensitive client information using email. If we have something to send you that contains a sensitive piece of information (like a social insurance number, social security number or a bank account number), we will upload it to your client portal.
How long does it usually take to do a tax return?
That depends on the time of year. For returning clients, we schedule each client’s tax compliance between the months of January and October. In scheduling, we ensure that all deadlines are met (using extensions, if necessary, in the case of U.S. filings) and try to minimize interest and late payment penalties where we can anticipate an amount owing. For new clients, we schedule the work based on our capacity (given obligations to existing clients).
Can you e-file tax returns?
Yes, we can – if your return is eligible for e-file. Certain U.S. states have restrictions on e-filing in situations which are commonly encountered by our clients (for example, where the address on the return is a foreign address).
What are your qualifications?
We expect our senior staff to have one of three qualifications:
- To be a Canadian CPA
- To be a U.S. CPA
- To have completed a U.S. Master of Tax degree
In addition, each of our senior staff members are U.S. enrolled agents to give us the right to represent clients before the IRS and state tax authorities.
What is an enrolled agent?
The IRS defines an enrolled agent as follows: “An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.”
What are your hourly rates?
At present, the hourly rates for our staff range from $60-$100 per hour for technicians and administrative staff to $200-$300 per hour for senior staff.
How much does a tax return cost?
Every return is different, but here is a general summary: the range for simple U.S. returns is $300-$600; the range for moderately complex returns is $600-$1,000; complex returns start at $1,000 (all prices are in Canadian dollars). There is no upper limit for complex returns, but we have very few that routinely exceed $1,500. In fact, we routinely provide our clients with advice on how to simplify their lives in order to reduce the cost of their U.S. filing.
In general, because we only take Canadian tax clients with significant cross-border tax complications, our average price for a Canadian return would be higher than our price for a U.S. return. If we accept you as a Canadian tax client, it means that you need a higher level of specialization, and you can expect to pay for it. If you need a less specialized (and cheaper) firm, we’ll send you to one.
If you move from the U.S. to Canada or from Canada to the U.S., you will typically need to do a Canadian return, a U.S. federal return and a U.S. state return. There may be a second Canadian return where you are moving with a spouse (Canada doesn’t have joint filings for couples). In cases like this, the price for a package (1-2 Canadian returns, a U.S. federal and a U.S. state filing) averages between $1,500 and $3,000 CAD.
What types of things affect how expensive my U.S. tax return will be?
Some of the things which make a U.S. return more costly are the following:
- whether the return is for one individual or two (U.S. taxpayers can file joint returns with a spouse)
- whether the return involves income from more than one country
- the need to file certain foreign asset disclosure forms (FinCEN Form 114, IRS Forms 8938, 5471, and 3520 are the common ones)
- the number of foreign (non-U.S.) financial accounts that need to be reported on FinCEN Form 114 and IRS Form 8938
- the number of investment accounts and the type of investments in each (Google “PFIC” to learn about one particularly problematic type of investment)
- the number of “investment transactions” occurring during the year (investment transactions are purchases and sales of stock and the receipt of investment income)
Will i be charged sales tax on my fees?
We are required to charge Canada’s Goods and Services Tax (or Harmonized Sales Tax) to residents of Canada. If you are a non-resident of Canada, you will not be charged the GST/HST. If you are a resident of Canada, you will be charged GST/HST based on your province of residence.
How will I get invoiced?
For most compliance (tax return preparation) assignments, we invoice you when we deliver the final product. Short consultation engagements booked via our website or a Calendly link require payment at the time of booking. In rare cases, we bill monthly for assignments which will be of a long-term nature.
How can I pay my invoice?
You can pay us using one of the following methods:
- A cheque
- Payment via credit card or PayPal on our website (unbordered.ca/payments)
- An Interac e-transfer
- A wire transfer
See the bottom of your invoice for instructions about each of these methods.
Do you accept payments in U.S. dollars?
No. However, you can pay your Canadian dollar invoice on our website with a U.S. credit card or PayPal, and the financial company will do the foreign exchange conversion for you. There is no need to have access to Canadian dollars to pay our fees.