Paying taxes abroad

I’m good at math and good at following directions.  That, plus a philosophical willingness to pay my taxes (somewhat tempered by the fact that I don’t live in the US and don’t participate in, or benefit from, very many US citizen services these days — with notable exceptions of important things like the State Department) means that paying my taxes ought not be too terribly onerous.

But I don’t care who you are, it’s still not the way anyone wants to spend a couple of Saturday mornings.

I sat down this morning with my good friend, Turbo Tax.  After a failed attempt at having our taxes done professionally last year, I had to rush to do them on my own (with help from Turbo Tax) at the very last minute.  That was pretty rough.  Combining Turbo Tax’s guidance with the supporting information provided by the IAEA was a little complicated, but seems to have gotten me through without any major failures (so far).  But, still, it was pretty complex.  Our taxes for 2011 involved living in two countries, plus two states within the US, and the sale of our home.  It was the most complicated return we’ve done so far.

This year, things are a lot simpler.  We don’t own anything.  We’ve lived abroad for over and year and it encompassed the entire year of 2012, so we don’t have to prove anything about our residency (although we do have to document the dates of each trip we made to the US) and, since we aren’t eligible for most deductions, for the first time in over a decade we don’t need to itemize.  It’s really pretty straightforward, once you get past the whole living abroad issue.  I think I paid my dues last year in terms of tax complication.  (And, of course, I’m sure I’ll have to do it again when we move home, and we won’t have the benefit of support from the IAEA at that point.  But that is a problem for another tax year.)

So, it’s not too bad this year, by comparison.  But it’s still kind of complicated, and it’s complicated in ways I’m not used to.  The things we have to look up and the supporting documents we need to collect are almost entirely different than they were in the US, so, although I thought was pretty well prepared when I sat down this morning, it turns out that I wasn’t.  And, after 2 hours of sifting through options on Turbo Tax (which I don’t mean to malign at all, because it’s incredibly helpful, and without it, I’d probably be left sobbing and fail an audit) I’m not much closer to completion than when I started.  But I do have a handy list of a dozen documents I need to find, which is at least a place to start.

To summarize, doing my taxes is not fun.  And I don’t get out of it, even though I moved out of the country.  (Bummer.)  At least one more Saturday morning will probably be dedicated to sorting everything out.  But, all things considered, it could be worse.  This is nothing compared to what I had to deal with last year.  I think I’ll focus on how grateful I am for that.

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