Okay. So, taxes.
Taxes were the monkey on my back for several weeks. I intended to do them. I put them off. I opened the box where every receipt under the sun from 2002 lived. I pondered. I procrastinated. I worried.
I went on a road trip Sunday before last to buy TurboTax for Mac, which has been wondrous for me in getting taxes sorted out for 4 years. Of course, we went out at 7pm, and apparently every possible vendor of TurboTax for Mac in San Diego (Fry’s, Staples, The Apple Store) is closed at 7pm on a Sunday. Go figure.
So on my lunch hour I walked out to the local Office Depot and got it. It was a lovely day too. Sun shining. Downtown near the water can be really zesty. Office girls, businessmen, homeless all doing their respective lunch groove things. Tourists wandering near Santa Fe Depot. Traffic steady.
I brought TurboTax home. Loaded it up. Put in some raw figures.
It looked bad.
It looked horrendously bad.
It looked to me like I was going to owe $2400.
I wondered about extensions and payment options.
Maybe it’s time to go on the lam?
I considered leaving the country.
The expatriate thought is not an idle one.
As a credentialed and licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner, I sometimes get email like this, and just got this a few days ago:
I came across your details and wondered if you would be open for new opportunities in Saudi Arabia for a respiratory therapist position. I have a number of positions available with xxxxxxxxx on good contract terms.
Please let me know.
xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxx
Phone: +xx (x) xxxx xxxxxx
Mobile: +xx (x) xxxx xxxxxx
Address: xx xxx xxxx xxxx xx xxx xxx
I have known several Docs, Nurses, RTs and such who have worked in Saudi Arabia and several other Arabian states. But it’s difficult to imagine me doing this. Still, my impression is the money is good, and one is treated well. But given the current instability of the “Middle East” (you know it’s actually a bit offensive to call it that, right? “Middle East” implies that we are in the center of things, and all others – Far East, Middle East, are simply “The Other” with regards to us).
Anyway, given my financial situation (could be much better, but always incrementally improving lately, albeit slowly), I considered for more than the usual half-a-second.
Why not take the gig? I don’t have encumbrances. I am a free agent. If I could invest time in something which would be of short duration (typically contracts are six months to a year I believe) and lucrative, why not do it? It would be a tactical, short duration, Machiavellian move designed to make bank, and grab some stories in the meantime. Live and blogging from Riyadh! It’s Joe “ArtLung” Crawford, Boy Respiratory Therapist, Follow his Daring Misadventures as he sucks snot and journals on life, love and cardiopulmonary ailments from the exotic climes of Saudi Arabia!
So I half-seriously pondered it for a few days.
Then I picked up the current issue of The Atlantic, paper magazine. I read the article “The Fall of the House of Saud” and I was stunned.
Wow. Pick it up.
Saudi Arabia is a mess. And we rely on them. They apparently have a trillion bucks in our banks. They have a messed up royal family. They are repressive. They are not cool. They have so many oil people, congressmen, pr people, Washingtonians, Texans, and the like in their pockets it’s not even funny. Colin Powell used to be the racquetball buddy of Prince Bandar. Prince Bandar used to come by the Kennebunkport compound of the bushes so often his nickname was “Bandar Bush.” And the intelligence agencies of our fair nation are not allowed to question Saudi Arabian nationals in their nation to, you know, investigate that 9/11 thing that we were so upset about a few years ago.
But enough about the geopolitical ramifications of US dependence on Saudi Arabian oil.
Back to my taxes.
So I went to family dinner the other night (lots of my relations meet and talk and stuff). I relayed my worries. My aunt, the certified financial planner and accountant, was not there, but I passed along my worries.
On Saturday she and I played racquetball. (Good games!) She also asked about taxes, and made suggestions for how to go about it – home office, new computer depreciation. Utilities. Mileage. I filed this all in my brain. Still procrastinating. But maybe a little hopeful.
So Monday, April 14th. I finally buckled down and did the do. Leah helped me go through the scary office box of papers. We went through receipts, bank statements, notes, invoices, EVERYTHING.
TurboTax keeps this running tally. I put in new items. I owed $1600. Hey — hope!
Eventually, several hours later, it was done. But my Aunt had wanted to review it, and I had told her I would bring it by on Monday night. It was now 1:30am. It’s been raining here in San Diego, so I ziploc’d up my California and State of California returns, and Leah took me to my Aunt’s and I dropped it on her windshield.
I hit my Aunt with an email.
When I awoke, there was a new email from my Aunt… I was hoping I hadn’t done anything to get me sent to jail, that I had not misunderstood my friendly tax software.
Looks okay- oh, wait what are the utilities on line 25, Schedule C-phone I hope. Your other utilities sb listed on office in home section.
And the final tally?
I owed The IRS $399. I owed California $165.
And I don’t have to go to Saudi Arabia.
Okay, maybe I was never going to go to Saudi Arabia, probably. But still, it’s more dramatic to think in these kind of terms.
That’ll do, Pig.