Friday, 9 November 2012

Tax Needn't Be Taxing!

This week I've been trying to talk to the Inland Revenue Service of that great nation, America, as it appears I'm paying their tax.  They are not in my good books. In fact, they are up there with that other great institution, British Gas, which is a blog for another day.

Well that’s what we’re told every year when the adverts from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service advertise on telly to remind people to get their tax returns in.  Now I'm sure that the tax people in the UK balls up on a regular basis, but my current rant isn't with them.  Besides, they have given me a tax rebate recently and they have a little crown on their logo which makes me feel a bit special.  As well as paying my hard earned cash to The Queen, I'm also paying some to Uncle Sam as well.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have American friends and they are all lovely people.  But when I received a couple of royalty cheques from Amazon.com – in dollars, I noticed that I had some stoppages.  Apparently, I've had 30% of my meagre royalties of my American sales deducted in tax.  Cheeky monkeys!  So if I'm paying tax in the USA, does that mean I get to vote in their general election?  I’d have voted for Obama; I didn't like the cut of Mitt Romney’s gib, and he had a silly name.  And next time I'm woken up by some drunken idiot shouting obscenities and threats at my window at three in the morning, I’ll ring the NYPD and they can come over and shoot them.  After all, I am now an American tax payer and I'm sure they wouldn't mind taking up the slack from the police in the Fens.

This means that I have to get myself exempted from paying US tax and trying to claim my money back rather than using common sense and not taking it in the first place.  So according to the advice page on Amazon, it was just a case of filling in a form, ringing the IRS and getting a EIN number, filling in another form and sending it to Amazon.  Then I’d have to go about claiming my paid tax back.  I'm sure there are lots of forms for that as well. 

‘Oh that’s ok,’ I thought, I’ll just set aside one evening and I’ll get it done.  Or so I thought.  I filled in their form and rang the number.  I was a bit nervous; after all, I’d have to speak to a real life American.  How should I sound?  A bit posh?  Would they think I was related to Hugh Grant?  Use Cockney rhyming slang, then I could completely confuse them?  When someone answered the phone and I did my spiel, it took a couple of seconds to realise I was speaking to a recorded menu.  Pressed a number, got put through, then got put through to the correct number and then was promptly cut off.

The next evening, I had a glass of wine for Dutch courage and rang again.  Spoke to an actual person, who recited his ID number to me and got transferred and put on hold again.  Half an hour later, I’d dozed off, mostly because I was slightly drunk and sheer boredom.  I was still on hold when I woke up so I gave up.  Rang again the next night, this time using Skype, and was put on hold again for half an hour.  Actually got to speak to a person this time, only to be told that the system had gone down and to ring again in a few hours.  I could send a fax, but I didn't know they still existed.

So to date, I still haven’t got this blasted EIN number and I still hold the status of American tax payer.  I thought I’d ring up the president Mr Obama and give him some suggestions on how to run his country’s tax system.  I'm sure I’d have more luck getting through to the White House than I would the IRS!

If you’d like to read my stories, which are definitely available in America, then you can download them from Amazon.  And if you are an American reading this, then can you also talk to your local council about the state of the pavements outside my flat, they’re in a shocking state.  It’s ok, I'm an American tax payer now.

LK Jay Amazon UK

LK Jay Amazon US

3 comments:

  1. This all sounds very familiar. The whole tax thing is a headache for me too. I got my EIN, but I spoke to someone in India first, followed by a woman who sounded like Lois Griffin from Family Guy, but I imagined she looked more like a less glamorous Michelle Obama.

    I too would have voted for Obama, by the way. Because he's cool as f**k and the other guy can't be on telly in my house without either me or my hubby shouting "mittens" at the screen in a faux American accent.

    Do we then have to fill in an American tax return after getting the EIN? Or is a British one sufficient? I have no idea.

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  2. The last I heard there's a main IRS office located in Austin, Texas--home of the southern twang and line dancing. So when you do get to talk to someone they may sound like someone off of a country western song (but don't ask them if their dog died and their wife left them). Then again, maybe you'll luck out and get someone in the California office--home of surfing, medical mary jane, and the term of endearment "dude".

    Oh and I think a loopy guy flew his plane into the Austin, Texas building a year or two back. Maybe they've relocated for now ;) (article here, including anti-IRS/government manifesto: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/us/19crash.html?_r=0)

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  3. I keep on meaning to get around to all this too - but my situation is complicated by the fact that I'm a British citizen living in Italy, paying Italian tax, but still on the British taxpayers' register ... It's too much of a headache, it really is. Financial management is not my strong point.

    Having said that, my Amazon earnings are so meagre that I wonder if it's even worth my while. Much good may the 30% cut of my royalties do the US economy! Naturally, if I were ever to start earning a deal of money, I think I might finally get the incentive I need to sort this out, with the help of a proper accountant if need be ... :-)

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