Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taxing the alien

Finally, I made up my mind. Yes, I can fill up the 1040 EZ form to file my tax returns. Wait a minute. What if this is not the right form? I went back and forth, getting into discussions with like-minded, not fully informed gentlemen, individuals, who had as much proficiency in accountancy and related information as I have, in say, Carnatic music. I tried to reach every information I could avail with a faint hope of procuring the maximum possible in some way. It is also important to fill up the right form; you don't want to be hauled up for filling out a wrong form!

I wanted to believe whatever others said as far as tax forms were concerned. I thought that everyone other than me had better knowledge when it came to filling these forms. It was after careful deliberation that I was sure of two things
  • I am capable of filling these forms on my own instead of going to a consultant, even if that meant additional complications in figuring out the obscurities.
  • That I cannot fill the online returns through one of those innumerable online tax helper sites, because I am still a non-resident alien (what a name! Gosh!)
I thought I knew what an alien meant when I watched those sci-fi movies as a kid, but for nothing in the world did I imagine that one day I would be in a place, where human beings are considered aliens. Thank God, there are no official scary outfits associated with these creatures (I meant us!!). So, finally, I was sure about one thing - that I am a non-resident alien; a proposition I would have dismissed ludicrous some years ago!

Apart from knowing what form to fill, it is important to know what has to be filled. Sometimes, it is great to know that you are single; unmarried. It would be great not to be single (a girl friend would have solved the problem here) and also be single (unmarried). So, when I had to check the box against SINGLE, I was absolutely sure that I was single in all aspects. That was a revelation not too pleasing personally, but gave me immense satisfaction for tax purposes. The other options were too intimidating when it came to personal exemption; married - joint filing, married - but separate filing and a whole range of options that can confuse any living being on the planet. So, safe, single and sound!!!

I have always cribbed about not getting enough interest amount from the local banks. I guess this was the only time in the whole year when I felt happy about not having to enter any money against the bank returns column. No interest amount meant no filling up the column; more importantly, no complex calculations. I would have willingly given some money back if it meant that it would ease up the calculations. Thank goodness, I had no property, no mortgage, no investments, no stock options. I don't know whether I would have been so happy without these things at other times, but now, it felt like I was in heaven!

So, there it was, the federal tax form was filled. Now, I took on the two state tax forms. It was like David taking on the Goliath. I had to take care of every tiny detail to make sure I was getting the calculations right. That's the problem with filling up these forms manually. You have to rely on your weak Math to help your cause. After filling up both the state forms, I realized that I had goofed up some of the additions. There went all my effort down the drain. Back to square one, with a different set of print outs (Knowing me, I had taken some extra copies!), same data with improved Math skills. Finally, after a complete brainwash, I placed the forms with all the supporting documents in three different envelopes, kept it in a place where I just cannot fail to notice the next morning. So, on the last day meant for filing, I sent in the postmarked envelopes gloating over the fact that I had filed my returns independently, and hopefully, not incorrectly!


  1. lol...good one! :)
    Totally agree with all your statements...I found myself in a similar situ last week! :D

    Btw, one MAJOR OBJECTION about your one particular statement which completely nullified my priceless contribution towards your tax(finish)ing goal!
    cheh cheh!

    no recognition AT ALL in this kalyugam!

  2. Well done ! I follow the easy way out - consultants !!

  3. A very well written post.
    Filing tax returns in an alien country (It is the country, not you, that is alien! Like "Ruth among the alien corn" :)) can be tiresome. Like Suchitra says, consult the consultants.
    And there is always another solution - come back home!!!!

  4. Sowmya
    Hahaha you will get the credits in the comments section for having answered all my queries related to tax form filling :-) Thank you, Thank you!!!

    I was lazy to go to the tax consultant actually :-)

    Raji Ma'am
    You are very true with your comment. It depends on what is "alien" :-) I actually like your second suggestion!

  5. seriously man...i faced this pain sometime back...i spoke with about a dozen people about filing those tax returns...but in the end i did figure those forms out. Now that I am in CA I feel that arnold taxes people for almost everything over here.(even the sand on the beaches,the great weather, the sunlight) and in the end all you see are clogged freeways in LA...

  6. yeah man, but Boston is not far behind when it comes to state tax :-)