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On Death and Taxes (Well, Mostly Taxes) March 30, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.

I have confronted the inevitable and finished my federal income tax return.

In theory, the whole process should take about ten hours; at least that’s what it says on the form. In my case it’s taken about twice that long, spread over three days and as many attempts to get it right. At first, the process was very metaphysical (literally) as I had to grapple with the most vital question to a taxpayer’s existence: What am I? Resident Alien? Non-Resident Alien? Departing Alien? Honestly, going through so many forms just to help determine what kind of “alien” a person is is enough to make anyone wonder whether the human race was in fact engineered by the same little green men that left us the pyramids.

Next came the odious task of actually filling up the forms and computing the amount I owed the U.S. government (or, hopefully, how much the U.S. government owes me – but I’m not holding my breath). This took some doing, owing to the fact that the whole process was, well, alien to me (pun intended). Thankfully, I had two things working in my favor. To begin with, the fact I have a single source of income (my scholarship’s stipend, the reason I have to file a return in the first place) made my life so much simpler, tax-wise. Further, the university provided me with access to an online tax preparation service that practically did all the work for me. though it did take some doing to figure it out. In this, the third time was the charm.

I now understand why tax preparation is practically an industry unto itself. As early as January when I got back to the U.S., there were numerous ads on tv from tax preparation services (e.g. H&R Block, Turbo Tax) whose underlying message was not just how much they could save you in taxes (and earn you in refunds) but how much easier they would make the whole process of preparing your return in the first place. With the dozens of forms that apply to taxpayers with different situations – Individual? Married (Filing Jointly)? Corporation? – or different sources of income – Self-employed? Interest Income? Dividend Income? – in different languages if needed – Spanish comes to mind – it’s no wonder that people would be willing to pay to make the headache go away. (Did I mention each form has its own set of instructions? Ah me.) The cynic in me can’t help but wonder whether the legislators who came up with the tax code weren’t just accountants who got themselves elected precisely to ensure the survival of their species.

Didn’t Shakespeare want to kill all the lawyers? I bet he’d feel the same about accountants if he were alive today.

But enough about that. I’d better get started on my state tax return. At least now I will save myself a lot of trouble since I already know with certainty that I am a Non-Resident Alien.

I’m so proud of myself.



1. Cima - April 5, 2006

Nice blog Brian! When do we get to see more porno, I mean, photos? Hehe

2. may - April 7, 2006

O, anong prize ko for the winning title entry? Hehe.

Mag-o-OLA na ako this summer. Pray na di ko mapahiya ang sarili ko.

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