American doing taxes for USA and Germany with Stocks and ETF's that generated dividends

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I have been gathering lots of useful information form this website, looking at different websites, and spent the last couple months speaking with different German CPA's. The CPA's would like to charge me at least 1,000 Euros as a base price with each additional hour costing around 300 Euros, without a fixed price for the total which is a little worrying and is quite expensive considering I make around 2K  a month here in Germany.  Unfortunately it is not 100%  clear to me on the best route to do taxes, being an American Citizen living in Germany. I make way less than 100k a year in Germany (excludes me from double taxation)  and have ETF's/stocks in the USA still which have generated dividends although I do not have any capital gains from 2021. I am attempting to do my taxes for the year of 2021 and would appreciate help for the steps on how to do this. I read that Germany charges around 26.2% tax for dividends made from Stocks (not sure how this works with ETF's). 


Does anybody have experience with this same situation as this is my first time doing this and I would appreciate some guidance: American doing taxes in USA and Germany while owning stocks/ETF's in USA.


Could someone please layout the groundwork in steps for how to approach this?


Additional questions:


1. Is it better to do the German taxes before USA taxes as I have been reading?

2. How do I pay specifically for the dividends, do I pay the difference from the 26.2% that Germany wants to have, being 11% to Germany first and then the 15% to the USA? How is this possible to pay?

3. Is this something that is do-able by yourself owning stocks/ETF's or should you consult a German CPA?

4. As far as the USA side of taxes, is it recommended to get a CPA or to do it on Turbo tax or another generic website that does taxes at a low-cost price. 


Lastly, I would appreciate input specifically about the ETF's and stocks and the steps taken that others have done in the past. If you have had help along your journey with taxes being an American, then please shed some light so I can soak up the knowledge as this is not an easy process.


Thank you so much for your time to read and help answer these questions!





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Hi Aaron,

Did you get any good answers to your tax problems?

Mine is more complicated because I got stranded in Germany due to the COVID travel restrictions. 

Most of my low income is from my UK pension.

However I has to take a Required Minimum Distributions from my IRA in Amerca.

Also my granddaughter and I sold the home we owned together in July 2021 so that she could buy a home of her own near her new job.

The worst thing is that the US SSA have not accepted my change of name documents.  Having sold up in American during 2005 I lost my Green Card in 2009.


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Hi Aaron


Unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with this. The good news is that you have your securities in a US brokerage account. Holding them in a German account causes all sorts of reporting issues, which your CPA will charge you an arm and a leg to convert. 


here is what you need to do

1. Do your German tax return with a tax advisor here. In the best case get one that has some knowledge of international taxes. They will also need your US brokerage statements for capital gains, dividends and interest

2. Get a US CPA or registered agent to do you US taxes. Make sure they specialize in expat taxes. I have used for the last 10 years. This lady used to work there and has gone out on her own


Generally, your German taxes will offset your US tax liability.


Also, don't forget that you need to fill out an FBAR report with the treasury for any bank accounts in DE with more than 10K USD. You can do this yourself. It is pretty easy.


Hope this helps




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