Another month, another 30 days of not updating the blog like I should do 🙂
This month saw me file my taxes.
Taxes are filed in two parts: Federal and State.
I shouldn’t have left it so long but, as per most of my student life, I left it until the last minute. I went to H&R Block in Millbrae after arranging an appointment only to find that the receptionist booked me in for a different day than the one I asked her for. The lady I spoke to had a client coming in at the same time but he never turned up so she saw me instead. I explained my circumstances, including the part about them needing to enter some dummy number in the box for Sam’s Tax ID as we needed to submit the ITIN application at the same time as filing the return. She entered in some of the details and got to Sam’s Tax ID and then spent about 5-10 minutes hitting the keyboard and tutting as she tried to get the cursor out of the field and stop the computer from beeping at her. She finally had to call over her colleague to tell her what to do. It was at that point that she told me that the Millbrae branch wasn’t qualified to deal with my tax return and I needed to speak to their Premium branch. That was disappointing. She could have told me that before I went into the office.
So, an appointment was arranged through the Premium office manager and I duly arrived on time only to find that there was no record of me speaking to him. D’oh ! It did, however, mean that I got a $32 discount on the tax preparation work. I spoke with a lady who took me through the questions on the return and I gave her the details from my UK P60 and P45. At the end, she told me that I was owed a large refund from Federal but I owed money to State. She also told me what the cost for the work was and that she would call when I could pick up the finished return. She got a bit confused and had to speak with a colleague on the best way to file my return.
I got the call a couple of days later and went to pick up the return. I got a bit of a shock when I was told that the final bill came to over double the cost I was shown previously. I queried this and got to speak with their “Master Accountant”. He sat down and looked through the return and discovered that the lady had entered in a lot of the details incorrectly and, more importantly, had not thought I could claim for Rachel and Joanna. He spent about 20 minutes working through the figures and it turns out that I get a slightly lower refund from Federal but I actually get a refund, of probably the same amount, from State. Woohoo ! The downside is that the cost of the tax preparation was more than when I went in :-S I weighed up the pros and cons of this and it boils down to: PRO: I get a better refund from State, CON: I have to pay more to H&R Block, PRO: I get a better refund from State. The total cost of the preparation is more than covered by the refund so I put this one down to experience.
This is only going to happen this time as I was only in the US for part of last year and could claim a tax credit for my UK earnings. I’m also going to be able file electronically next year so I won’t need to use H&R Block for tax preparation.
The other benefit is that because I filed for a refund, the fact that I filed late won’t mean I get penalised.
So, I’m waiting for my Federal refund to come back and that should include the ITIN for Sam and then I can file my State return and get the refund back on that.
I like this country. I’ve made certain, like I did in the UK, that the refund comes back as a cheque because it’s always nice to see the government give something back.
The other important news for this month is that we’ve bought and paid for our tickets back to the UK in June for my brother’s wedding. My family have been arguing over who loves us the most and where we can stay. I think we’ve got it sorted out. The most important thing is that I get to watch all three of England’s first-round matches. Going to visit Sam’s family is a little more difficult as they don’t have the space to fit us all in so we’re staying with some friends for a few days and then moving to other friends for a few more days and then moving to other friends for a few more days. During this time, I will be working in the UK office so that we can get an extended stay.
Our first port of call is likely to be a curry house 🙂 I’ve certainly missed UK curries. In Millbrae, there is a lot of Asian influence so we have Thai and Chinese restaurants but no Indian restaurants. There are a couple in San Mateo but they don’t deliver.
We need to make a list of all the British things we want to bring back with us when we return to the US. I’m guessing that PG Tips are high on that list as is Dairy Milk. I may see if Cadbury’s do international deliveries.