Monday, April 16, 2018

the tax man always rings twice

I am a procrastinator.

Not, on most things in life. I at least have a vague idea of what I want to do and when I should do it with almost everything in life. Except for taxes.

And there is no reason. After I sold my house and consolidated my investments, my annual income taxes should be as easy to calculate as the post card Jack Kemp used to taut.

I received four pieces of paper this year describing the extent of my income and the amount of money that had been withheld for taxes. That should have been as easy as adding the four figures, calculating the marginal rate, taking my personal exemption, and asking Uncle Sam to send back some of my money.

But, it was that last step that kept me from filing earlier. A quick calculation in January revealed that I owe more to the American government than it has already lifted from my money. Not only do I not get some of my own money back, the Treasury Department informs me it wants more.

I should not have been surprised. Ever since I retired to Mexico, I have had to pay additional taxes on my income beyond the withholding amount. (This year enough to buy a new car. An economy car. But, mind you, a new one.)

I have tinkered with the withholding amounts. But, having separate sources of income always creates problems because of the progressive (a misuse of that word, if there ever was one) nature of the American income tax system.

But there is little penalty for us procrastinators in the depths of darkest Mexico -- thanks to the marvel of electronic filing.

I used Turbo Tax in January to calculate what I would owe this year. When I opened it up, it was still waiting patiently for me to tell the internet how I wanted to pay my pound of flesh (with my air mile credit card, of course). Having settled up financially, I pressed one button, and my return was filed.

Somewhere in the next few months, a mid-level federal bureaucrat is going to climb into a newly-purchased economy car to drive from Nashville to Dayton. And I am betting pesos to tortillas I will not receive a thank you note.

Maybe I just need to learn to be patient. But that is where we all came in. Isn't it?

Happy payment day.

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