Thursday, March 17, 2005

To reside or not to reside, that is the question... answer was no three times and maybe/sort of the other time. I am, of course, talking about the inexplicably un-understandable world of US tax forms. You'd think it would be an easy question, it's one of the first questions that they ask on all of the forms (I've filled out four so far, and can't quite work out if I need to fill out a fifth), but I'm buggered if I can work out where I'm a resident and where I'm a non-resident.

The only thing I know for sure is that as far as the federal government is concerned, I am a non-resident alien — which is a lovely way to describe somebody, really makes you feel welcome. If I'm still around this time next year I get promoted/demoted to resident alien — which, I guess, is sort of like a resident DJ in a club, only much cooler. I'm pretty sure that as far as lovely little State College is concerned I am also a non-resident (which is good as it means my tax rate drops from 2.25% to 1%). When it comes to Pennsylvania I plumped for non-resident, based solely on the fact that I ticked that box last year, well that and I know I'm not getting a refund from them so it pretty much doesn't matter which box I tick.

Then I came to the incredibly, for me at least, confusing Ohio tax form, after much umming and ahhing I decided to plump for part-year resident. You'd think somewhere on the State of Ohio tax website, or the Ohio State international scholars tax website, they'd mention whether or not Ohio considers dirty foreigners, such as myself, residents or non-resident. And you'd be wrong. Once we'd jumped over, or maybe through, this first hurdle and got to question one proper, I was confused again. Instead of asking me to fill out the amount of money I was paid as listed on my W-2, they asked me what I wrote in box 36 of my federal tax form. The problem being that they actually meant box 35 on my federal tax form, as I get to fill in the non-resident one. Several blind guesses and table head thumps later, and I ended up claiming that Ohio owes me $86 (although I did offer to donate ten of those dollars to the cute little endangered animals), we'll have to wait and see if they agree with me.

As far as I can tell, I don't have to fill out a Columbus tax return. Using their look for the biggest number on your W-2, double it and divide by a hundred (okay I could have just said times by 2%) method, I've paid the right amount of tax here. I particularly like how they instruct you to look for the largest number on the W-2.

By this stage I'm just thoroughly fed up with filling out bloody forms, and if it wasn't for the fact that (I think) the thieving bastards owe me some seven hundred odd dollars between them, I'd have given it all up as a bad game a long time ago.

In further proof that Benjamin Franklin was right, yesterday also saw me purchase Funeral by Arcade Fire. Okay, I agree that's a tentative link at best, but we do what we can. I also bought, on the recommendation of Thea Gilmore, Escondida by Jolie Holland. I've not really had enough time to fully form an opinion of either album, but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to end up liking them both rather a lot, particularly the Jolie Holland album.

For those on tenterhooks waiting for news of the bar downstairs (notice how it's the bar and not my bar, it's been a good few weeks since I've had anything more than my free Sunday night beer club beer there) a couple of nights ago I thought that somebody had gone and done something rather rash. I was sat upstairs in my apartment, as I'm wont to do every now and again, and then there was this siren and these flashing lights and a great big fire truck pulled up in front of my apartment. My first thought when I saw the fire engine was of one of the recently departed employees, not that I think they'd burn the place down but I remember them saying that if anything bad happened to the bar they'd get the blame after vocally wishing ill on the place. Fortunately, for both them and myself, there was no raging inferno as I think I'd be more than a little bit fucked if my apartment burned down.

Okay, enough rambling for now.

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