Bureaucracies Financial

Tax hurdles

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 ).

Bureaucracies Financial


We finally picked up our car last week.

Those fine people at Addison Avenue gave us the money and we bought a Nissan Maxima. It’s a nice roomy car with a big gas guzzling engine. So, we’re official Americans now.

I shall take great delight in handing back the rental car to Enterprise but not before I’ve negotiated some kind of frequent flyer credit with them for spending nearly $9,000 with them, albeit some of the money was from Scalix. It may hold us in good stead when we come back to the UK for my brother’s wedding in June next year.

Sam drove to the shops and back in the new car. She’s still very nervous about making sure she’s on the right (in all senses of the word) side of the road. She’s going to get the hang of it but she really needs to play on the freeway. Still, every long journey begins with a single step.

We got our insurance set up. The phone jockey at Progressive was trying to get us to buy liability only (3rd Party) which seems a bit strange. We opted for fully comp because we can’t get roadside assistance with 3rd party cover. We now have to pay over-inflated prices for 18 months before we will be considered as careful drivers. After the rigmarole that was credit checks, I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to fight them on this one.

Bureaucracies Home Life

Fanfares all round

Today was another DMV day.

Sam wants to get some driving lessons to build up her confidence driving on the wrong side of the road. In order to do this, she has to get her permit. This means passing the written test.

She’s been revising for the past few days and took her test this morning. Another tense time in the Kelly household and much nervousness.

The DMV was quiet compared to Tuesday. Our queue shuffling only took a couple of minutes.

We did find out an interesting piece of information. After telling the clerk that we had forgotten our denial notice from the Social Security Administration, he told us that we didn’t need it anyway and all Sam had to do was to sign in one of the boxes. He did an inquiry (pronounced in-kwirry rather than in-kwirey) and it revealed that Sam *can* get a Social Security number. We’re off to the Social Security office next week then to see what they have to say about it.

Sam cautiously approached the test area, took her test and then walked slowly to the window to have it marked. You could almost hear the theme tune from Countdown as the tension built up. The clerk marked the paper and wished Sam congratulations !! She got 3 wrong like I did. It wasn’t the same question sheet so she was answering questions that she’d not seen before.

Fanfares all round because this means she’s another step closer to independence.

Tomorrow is the company picnic so it’s time to dust off my shorts and give my legs the annual exposure.