And here I thought I was keeping my head above water

About a year ago I got mail from the IRS. I wasn’t worried. What could they want from little old me?

I was being audited for my 2005 taxes. That’s what. In 2005 I was still in grad school, living in Belgium and commuting to NYC for work. So my accountant and I claimed an exclusion because I lived abroad. Apparently, they didn’t like that.

But I wasn’t too worried. I sent them all the info they asked for: a copy of my apartment lease and proof that I paid rent in the foreign country, work schedules, a copy of my residence permit, etc etc.

To get to my point, I thought that, Ok, maybe they were going to decide I owed them some money for whatever reason. It wouldn’t be worth fighting; I’d just pay it and be done. It couldn’t be that bad – I mean, after all, I don’t make very much!

So imagine my cranky surprise when my father came to visit this weekend, toting a big fat envelope from the IRS. We were joking, I gave a drum roll to see how much they’d decided I owe (hoping it was $0, of course, assuming at worst it was a number with only two 0’s in it)…and just about choked. Somehow the IRS thinks I owe them over $4000! The most insulting part is, a big chunk of that is a “penalty”. How can they charge you a penalty for not having paid money they never told you you owed?!

I’m not a Conservative. I don’t have a problem with taxes. But, please, just not all at once. This is one of those crappy times when I feel like I just learned what it’s really like to be a grown-up. And I don’t like it. Sigh.

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2 Comments

Filed under if I'd known than what I know now, life, work

2 responses to “And here I thought I was keeping my head above water

  1. oh yoicks! I don’t think I can ever live in the US again – someone told me that even though I lived in the UK for over 20 years, as a US citizen I should have been filing a tax return every year. If I try to live there again, surely they’ll be sending me to jail.
    I hope you can appeal whatever it is they have decided you owe for. But it’ll probably take years. Good luck with it!

  2. I sorry to hear this. Cynically, everyone knows grad students have *no* $, including the IRS who flagged this to pick it up again when she’s been employed a few years. Cynical? Yep. But it makes tons of sense.

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