April 15th.  A day with a tragic past. The day the Titanic sunk.  The day Abraham Lincoln was shot and…

 

Tax Day.

 
Two words that would give me chills, even when I was living in America.

 

Filing taxes is just one type of adulting I can’t get the hang of. Now that I’m living in China(and my dad is too far to help), I basically skipped out on filing my taxes for a couple of years. Okay…a few. Don’t get me wrong; I looked it up. I’m talkin’ hours on the couch researching on how to file your taxes abroad and let me tell you; Worst. Rabbit hole. Ever.

 

If you’re an American, congrats! You’re apart of one of the only countries that make their citizens pay taxes even when they live abroad. Yup. Even though you don’t live stateside, you still gotta fork over the cash and file your taxes abroad. Now before you start renouncing your citizenship, know that Americans only have to pay taxes back home if they make over $100,000.00. Lucky for you, Uncle Sam counts what you pay in local taxes towards your US tax obligation, but only if the tax rate is higher or the same as the US.

 

So basically, don’t hustle TOO hard and you won’t owe a dime.

 

 So, if you aren’t required to pay taxes in the states, why file at all? Well, after that rabbit hole journey, I found that pushing some paperwork outweighs all the penalties you’ll be faced with if the IRS ever catches on to your anarchist ass. Not only will you be getting the big, bad tax man hitting you with some fees, but you could be denied social benefits, inheritance, and the ability to renew your passport. YOUR PASSPORT. Your golden ticket to adventures and most likely, your most prized possession. If that isn’t bad enough, someone can actually narc on you for not paying your taxes and receive a ‘finders fee’.

Repeat after me: Trust no one.

 

If you’ve skipped a couple years filing out of sheer fear, take a long deep breath. I did too. Fortunately for us, the IRS has an amnesty program in place that forgives Americans if they immediately file for the past three years. They would rather know what you’re doing and how much you’re making than slapping you with some fines.

 

Now, this should be where I walk you through each step on how to file your taxes abroad. Buuuut that’s not gonna happen.

 

Not that I’m entirely clueless, but now, I’ve got a tax guy. And a tax girl.

 

Basically, I got a whole gang of adults at Taxes for Expats that specialize in helping Americans jump through the hoops of filing taxes abroad. What did they need in order to wash away my sins? Proof of my last filed year. That’s it. So I went to IRS.com, requested my 2014 tax record by mail, waited a week, and sent them over to my case worker Dean. With over 20 years experience in the tax game, Dean has the deets on how to file your taxes abroad.

 

It was seriously simple. I filled in a questionnaire about my earnings, expenses, and basically checked a lot of ‘No’s’ on things like ‘mortgages’ and ‘Swiss bank accounts.’

 

The best part, I didn’t even have to hunt down my previous schools to get a W2. Dean had me review everything with him and then bam. I was a stand-up-tax-filing citizen. God bless the US of A…kinda.

 

So the catch? Dean’s and the folks’ Taxes for Expats magical abilities come at a price. $350 buckaroos.

 

Luckily, as teachers in China, we have that kind of expendable cash. Just shorten your Summer holiday in Thailand a week.

 

The tradeoff? The feeling that you’re not going to get stopped by cops at the airport when you come home for Christmas. Seriously, your mom would be pissed.  But for real, it IS the law. With as much fun we’re having and money we’re making in China, we gotta still be a little bit responsible. The last thing you want is to have to hand over all that dough you made in China just to pay for penalties in a place you weren’t living.

 

 Adulting is hard. Pay someone else to do it.

 

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