Spotlight on Kristen Howze, Director of International Taxation

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Our Spotlight series shines a light on the careers and lives of tax professionals around the world.

This week’s spotlight is on Enrolled Agent Kristen Howze. Howze is an American citizen who lives and works in Europe. After spending eight years in the Netherlands, she is now based in Switzerland. Her house seems busy: she is married with a teenage daughter, a husky mix dog, a cat and a lot of fish.

What is your official title and what does it mean? My title is Tax Manager, International Tax Services. Since we opened a branch in Lausanne, Switzerland, this means more than before. I take care of my clients’ tax preparation and planning, management of the Lausanne office, marketing and local outreach to attract new business, as well as blogging about issues and issues. currents that I see.

Free time: book, audiobook or podcast? All. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while walking the dog or doing household chores, and in particular, I really enjoy behavioral economics podcasts. I prefer books in the evenings and on weekends.

Taxation is a huge subject. What is your particular area of ​​interest? US tax for American people living outside the US like me. I help people who are no longer in compliance or were unaware of the unique brand of citizenship based taxation in the United States which is different from most other countries.

I also specialize in assisting foreign nationals entering the United States and American people who decide to emigrate. Whenever I hear an American person with a non-American spouse asking for a green card, I want to scream, “Wait! Talk to me first so we can make sure you don’t unnecessarily complicate your US tax situation. Navigating a tax system is difficult, but navigating the tax laws of multiple countries certainly adds another layer of complexity. My goal is to identify tax treatment mismatches and help my clients optimize their tax situation for both the United States and their country of residence.

What’s the last movie or show you watched and liked (DVD, Netflix or at the movies)? When I think about what I’ve watched recently, “My Octopus Teacher” really stands out from the crowd.

What college did you attend and what did you study? I attended Penn State and Arizona State Universities, where I obtained my BSc. My favorite field of study was statistics, and I took as many statistics courses as they offered.

Go to pickup: Coffee or tea? Mainly coffee, with cream and sugar, French press, please.

What’s the best tax or financial advice someone has ever given you? When I was in my early twenties, my mentor taught me the importance of saving for retirement. I didn’t take it to heart then, but in retrospect, increasing my retirement savings earlier would have had a big impact.

More recently, the advantages of not always taking a position on a treaty just because it is available. For example, if you live in a foreign country where employee and employer pension contributions may be excluded and / or deducted from gross compensation, such as 401 (k) salary in the United States, you may be able to perhaps form a basis in the foreign retreat. , which benefits you later.

If you weren’t in the tax industry, what would your dream job be? I would like to be a mountain guide and lead multi-day hiking and / or skiing expeditions. If I wasn’t going to stray too far from my current path, I would use my tax and expatriate skills proactively: Cross-border financial planning is attractive because it can really have a positive impact. Global mobility and global relocation assistance are also of interest to me.

If you had the opportunity to make a change in the tax world — an extra credit, a denied deduction, whatever — what would it be? I would support large-scale tax reform for Americans living abroad. They are often subject to very onerous, complex and confusing filing and reporting requirements. American Citizens Abroad has advocated for residence-based taxation and exceptions for the same countries for international reporting, such as the FBAR.

Favorite food, snack or candy during tax season or other busy time? Popcorn with butter, and in my opinion, France makes the best butter.

What new or tax measure has had the most impact on your firm or your clients over the past year? Credit for economic impact payments and recovery reimbursement. Both presented significant barriers for those living outside the United States. EIPs were lost in international mail, and for those who received them, they had a hard time collecting them. American people really have a hard time using IRS tools, for example, registering to access an account online.

If you got a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Save half, use the other half for travel and scuba diving.

Find Howze on LinkedIn and learn more about Howze’s company, KLR, on their website.

If you would like to recommend a tax professional, send your suggestion to [email protected] with the subject: Spotlight. Please include the following information: name, title, email address and geographic area of ​​the tax practitioner (city / state / country).

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