Monday, April 16, 2007

Tax Day

And you thought you hated taxes...

It’s odd, but of all the US holidays we’ve spent in Singapore, the one we’ve been most cognizant of is Tax Day. We left Singapore just as the tax forms were being mailed out, and we were sure something would go wrong. But one thing after another actually went right. Change of address logged for all 1,458 tax-related accounts? Check. Forms received in Singapore, scanned, PDF’d, sent to CPA? Check. Draft of taxes received and scrutinized? Changes sent back via email on deadline, taking time zones into account? Check, check. We live in an amazing electronic world.

But then the accountant’s new assistant sent an email apologizing: somehow she’d already e-filed our taxes, with none of our changes - no new address, and no direct deposit information for refunds, which will now be sent by mail. And especially since we’re out of the country, everything is now in a bit of a pickle.

Usually, mail sent to our old address is forwarded to a US PO box and periodically couriered to us. But before we moved, our old post office told us they don’t forward government mail. Will they consider our refund checks “government mail”? It’s tough to find out; we can’t call them to clarify, because the new USPS phone system won’t let you get through to actual local staff.

So we had to try to change our address with the IRS - which is only available from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., our time. When we finally got through, IRS said nothing doing, we have to personally mail them a form first, and we can’t send it overnight mail - but they need it really really soon. Then they suggested we call our old local post office and ask them to watch for the refund check. Obviously they have never tried this themselves.

And even if somehow the check is not lost or returned and does reach us, we’ll be muddling through paperwork in the confusing and fee-laden process of depositing US checks, because of course now they’re “overseas” checks which require huge amounts of paperwork and months to clear.

I suppose on the grand scale of things, it’s a minor inconvenience. But it’s so hard to juggle it all from the other side of the world. I like to believe we live in a global society - a small, navigable world - and sometimes I forget: we’re just not there yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you find the US tax process a bit of a pain I suggest adding up all the money you're paying that fine administration. Then, subtract the amount lost to currency devaluation in the past 12 months (you're already paying less), and also subtract the fees paid to the national debt (totally worth it) as well as the money paid in no-bid contracts to Haliburton. You'll feel waaaaaay better.