Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That would be the Provisional IRS, perhaps?

I found this from a onetime student housemate of mine, in a thread on Livejournal talking about the incomprehensibility of British tax forms and the difficulty or ease of getting details changed if you made a mistake. The author is British and now telecommutes from the Yukon to LA, but he used to live there.

A few years ago I was filling out a US tax return reporting my Canadian income. I was doing this to maintain US residency "just in case". There were 6 options for what sort of foreign income I was reporting: various forms of business, shipping, and investment income, section 112(j) income, or other.

I selected "section 112(j) thinking other was unlikely and none of the other options fitted regular income, saved the return (I was being computer assisted) and went to look up what what section 112(j) income was. It was "Income derived from governments known to be sponsors of terrorism". Oops. So I go back to the computer and try to change my entry. It, bless its little silicon heart, says: you can't change this return, it has been submitted. It was lying, but there was a degree of panic.

For obfuscated forms, the US tax people probably take the prize. Add computers into the mix and you have a real recipe for disaster.


At 30 April, 2008 11:50, Blogger Persephone said...

Well, we (by this I mean Canada, if I'm allowed to speak for my nation [probably a bad idea]) have certainly been accused of sponsoring terrorism more than once by people claiming to speak for the States: by not "playing" (participating in the right war), by not having stringent enough racial profiling, or rigorous enough border security (the last in a notorious episode of The West Wing which demonstrated the height of paranoia reached just after 9/11 and a less-than-thorough knowledge of Canadian geography). So, according to some, your ex-housemate's accidental choice would not be far off the mark. Still, what an odd thing to put on a form! Rather like a sneaky grammar school trick. ("Gotcha!") Or a test for witchcraft...


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