Archive for February, 2006

Tax hurdles

Sunday, February 5th, 2006

Taxes have to be done by April 15th. Given that I have no idea how the American tax system works, I decided that I would start early.

Most people will buy the latest edition of either Turbo Tax or Tax Cut to run on their PCs. The latter has the advantage that it’s branded by H&R Block who are basically a chain of high-street accountants that people can use to get their taxes filed. We got a copy of Tax Cut and I fired it up.

The software goes through a large number of steps and will ask you questions about your earnings etc. I started to work my way through and just about managed to get myself past the name and address section without a problem.

The first hurdle was that I was asked about my dependents. I put Rachel’s details in and the software responded that she could not be counted as a dependent. I figured that something was amiss so I delved into the help section and started looking for anything that bore a resemblance to an international relocation. There was nothing. I can’t enter Sam’s details without putting in her Social Security Number ( see many previous rants about SSNs ).

I don’t want an IRS audit this early in my US existence so I decided that we would chalk this up to experience and make use of a face-to-face consultation with H&R Block. Luckily, they have an office in Millbrae so I phoned up to make an appointment.

The woman on the other end of the phone asked me what my situation was and I explained that we’d just relocated, I was married with two children. She then asked me for their SSNs. No joy there, they don’t have them. OK, how about their Federal Tax IDs ?

( Sound of brakes screeching )

What ?

Apparently I need to get  them a Federal ID before I can include them on my tax return. So, I now have to find our local IRS office so that I can apply for IDs. The search begins tomorrow.

In other news, today is Super Bowl XL with Pittsburgh against Seattle. Seeing as I see American Football as Rugby with padding, I don’t plan to watch the whole 3 hours of television coverage but it’s interesting to see the spectacle live ( and I can watch it in HD and Dolby Digital sound ).