20 April 2011

The Return of the Tax Money

This past weekend, I finished doing my tax returns. And I am getting a little bit of money back. Great!

I just realized that I have been doing my tax returns for 6 years now. I started back in 2006, and I was so clueless on how to do it. There were so many questions, so many things that produce some number, so many digits that appear in different boxes that I need to add and or subtract. It was very confusing. The directions look easy, but there was no way to check whether I was really doing it right or wrong. Unlike other mathematical operations, where I can grab a calculator and verify what I did, these operations were based on laws that were decided by other people and not by hard pure math. What's worse, they change every year.

So, I was glad when 2009 came, because that was the year when I qualified to be a resident for tax purposes. The thing is, once you're in the United States for five years or more, you are qualified to file tax returns as a resident, for tax purposes. And it is cumulative, so I counted the years I spent in Colorado, Hawaii, and Guam. That means that starting from the tax year of 2008 I can then file as a resident.

And you know what that means?

Yes, I can use a tax preparer that would do my taxes for free!

Of course, even if I was not yet a resident, I could have gone to an accountant and had my tax returns done, but I would have to pay for it. However, the university's business school offers free tax preparation services, but only for resident filers. Thus, it was only until 2009 that I started using their services.

So yeah, this past Saturday, I went to the business school, brought my W-2, a photo ID, my social security card, and the other documents that were needed. After waiting for about 30 minutes, they entertained my documents, and after a few more minutes and questions, voila, I am getting some of my tax money back. Yay!

(Terrace Overview, from my Ollantaytambo Series)


  1. Good for you! I have to do my taxes soon... Feng usually takes care of it. I find the paperwork pretty obscure to be honest. I'm not usually the kind of woman who relies on the husband but for taxes, I do. Or I hire someone!

  2. Zhu,

    I hate doing my taxes too, because the rules change every year, and there's so many things to add and subtract. That's why I am happy that I can let someone else do it for me!

  3. Very strange! I am one of those people who go through the hundred page manual, build my own tax calculation sheet in excel and verify that the tax software I use is doing it correctly. I do not trust the accountants and tax preparers at all.

    On two separate occasions these experts provided me wrong or incomplete advice; and I had consulted four people. One would imagine that talking to an independent 'expert' consultant would be enough advice but when four of them tell you "do it this way" it doesnt sound like an convincing answer to me at all. Quote me the regulation and provide the rationale please. So now I just do it myself.

  4. Priyank,

    It's probably because I don't have a data point that would make me distrust them. You on the other hand have, so you do it yourself. Although perhaps if I got wrong advice then I would also go my way and do it myself. I am just glad that my system currently allows me to trust them that I'd just let them do it and not worry about it.

  5. Well, you'll never know if they are giving you wrong advice because you aren't independently verifying anything! I knew they were giving me wrong advice (all FOUR of them) only because ... okay okay nevermind... not everyone is a tax geek. :D

  6. Priyank,

    Haha, fair enough. In my case, I am letting members of a business administration honor society do my taxes, after which a certified person would verify what they did before filing it. In that case, two people would see it, before it gets filed. And in all cases, I get money back, so I really have no reason to doubt. And yes, I am not a tax geek.