Several things happened this week.
The first thing that arrived on my desk was a box of cheques from the bank. When we applied for a bank account, we were given a book of possible designs we could have for our cheques. There are sites that specialise in providing designs, e.g. CheckWorks. I wanted to write my rent cheques with a Spongebob Squarepants cheque book but then I realised that we get at least 150 cheques in a print run and I'd be paying for everything with Spongebob. Still, it would make paying the IRS fun (if anything can).
The most noteworthy event was that I now have my SSN !! So much importance is placed on this little number that I was expecting a grey-suited man, with sunglasses and a briefcase attached to his wrist with handcuffs, to deliver it personally but it came in a white envelope.
What a waste of time 🙂 It was a piece of card with a type-written name and number bearing the instructions that I'm not to give it out to anyone, I'm not to carry it around and I'm not to laminate it. How am I supposed to remember the number for the first few weeks if I can't carry it around ? I'm having to rehearse the number every time I go to bed so that I can reel it off whenever someone in authority asks for it.
The downside of having a SSN is that I get to pay tax. I informed the authorities at Scalix that I had this new identity and got a load of forms to fill in. It appears that America pays its taxes in April. Your employer will withhold a certain amount of tax (called withholding tax) for you but you have to file a tax return with the exact amounts at the end of March. You then pay the difference between what your employer has withheld and what the actual amount is. When you join a company, you have to fill in a W4 which gives them your SSN and address plus how many allowances (deductions) you want to claim, i.e. children, marriage etc. At the end of the financial year, you work out exactly how much those deductions are and pay the difference.
The first thing I need to find is an accountant to explain all of this for me because it involves me having to search out lots of different worksheets and forms to determine if I have to fill any of them in.
In other news, we may have found a place to live. We widened the search further up the peninsula to Millbrae. This is close to SFO so people visiting just need to get a taxi and can get there in about 10 minutes. The neighbourhood looks pleasant, the roads are quiet and the school is most definitely in walking distance. The school gets good test scores so we think it's a fit for us.
We're trying to tie up the details at the moment. I've managed to get a UK-based credit report from Equifax for £11.75 (£10 + VAT). Equifax are used by most of the UK lenders and credit agencies. It's nerve-wracking when you're waiting for your score to be revealed but it turns out that I'm above average. This means that people are more willing to lend me money and at better rates.
So, if anyone's got a few bucks to spare…