I got a letter in the mail from the IRS stating that a request for transcript of tax return could not be processed because of my address across the sea. So, I called to correct the address, corrected it and then later got another letter from the IRS stating that my non-US address still didn’t match their records, which is still the case today.
Well, while correcting the address that is corrected but is still incorrect, I guess, even though mail is sent to me with it, I was informed that it was very extremely super endlessly important that I file tax returns for the years 2008 and 2009. Of course, I didn’t file such years because I was told that I couldn’t because of my address, the required form used or the AGI given. Living abroad as a US person means finding tricks to file tax returns, such as inventing an address, skipping forms or creating an imaginary AGI of $1 to prevent one’s tax return from being denied submission. That’s the wonderful technology Americans buy when they spend $20 billion on the government!
Over the last decade the IRS has spent nearly $20 billion on information technology. Taxpayers deserve to know if they are getting their money’s worth.
The Committee on Ways and Means
Nevertheless, I accepted the challenge of filing a previous year tax return, because I had never dreamed of doing so at any point in my entire life! What this means is submitting a basic 1040 since the expat double-tax penalty deduction gives me an AGI of $0. That’s so simple, one would think. So, where does one go when they tax need help? Free File Fillable Forms! Or, maybe not.
My journey then took me to TaxACT, where I clicked around until I finally stumbled upon the screen which stated $22.90. That’s $9.95 for TaxACT 2009 Online Deluxe and $12.95 for 1 years of 2009 Data Archive Service (DAS). Now, for $22.90 I insist on having more bells and whistles than just E-filing. Yet, TaxACT offers everything that I don’t need. I don’t want delux or to print, store or plan, but only to submit and free of charge.
Thank God there’s FreeTaxUSA to the rescue! Yet, with USA, they must really mean USA and only USA because their territorial-based taxation doesn’t extend beyond US borders, similar to that of the IRS.
For fellow stateside Americans reading this blog, this means that the State where I live is not available among the given choices and a letter will not reach me when the country is not listed. But, no worries. I’ll just add the additional details to the city. Oh, but it doesn’t like the comma and insists on having a State. So, let’s invent a State. How about Hawaii? I always thought that it would be cool to live in Hawaii. I then removed the comma and replaced the “d” which got stripped from the country name. Oh, my zip code is 4 digits and it says that it must be 5 digits. Easy enough, let’s prefix it with a ’0′. That makes sense. Now it is telling me that my zip code is not valid in the state of Hawaii. Of course it’s not, dufous, I live in Switzerland, duh! Well, a google for my zip code states that it is assigned to Vermont. So, Vermont it is. Bingo! That did the trick.
The next part is my favorite part, where I get to select all the “no’s”. No this, not that, no, no, no, no, etc. Oh, now it says that I have $0 income and a $0 refund. That’s almost right, but it’s missing something somewhere. Where could that be? It’s not “Other income”. It’s not a W-2 form. Let’s try tax help and type in the magic number: 2555. I knew it! USA is a territorial-based tax system, for all eyes to see. It’s a proven fact!
Yet, the IRS still insists that it is super duper endlessly important that I snail mail to them the AGI of $0 in 2009 which is the same as in 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001?
In day two, I’ll further explore the concept of filing previous tax returns.