Thursday, March 14, 2013

Taxing Times

Ruins of Cirella near Diamante

It is income tax time in America and living in Italy does not relieve us of those duties. We both have always been reasonably willing to support our government with taxes and right now the tax rates are the lowest in our lifetimes, so no complaints. The images scattered herein are examples of why we stay happy in Italy regardless of rules and taxes in either country.

No, Doug has never had a “Pinocchio Moment” because he is honest in his role as the tax filer. Still fun to play with a large peperone before it goes into a pot of chile con carne, besides this picture is more like me than one taken in front of the computer pretending to understand the tax code. Why did I end up with this instead of Di? Don't even remember how it started. 

It is funny that we work so hard to pay money to the US government while living in a country so well known for tax evasion. America should loan its Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to Italy to track down all the back taxes owed. The reality is most of the problem here is due to the entrenched cash society. When workers, builders and even dentists and doctors are paid in cash, how much is reported to the Italian financial officials? Our dentist would not take a bancomat card – cash only! We don’t know how Italy and Greece can change this situation that has taken decades to become a way of life.


Orsomarso

For years we have used the online tax computing service called TurboTax. The only downside has been that IRS was not accepting e-filing from outside America. This year was to be different, but a little glitch at TurboTax is causing us to have to send the tax return and payment via snail mail yet again. We always send such documents FedEx – at €35.

We often tell stories of dealing with Italian agencies.  American agencies still have the ability to frustrate. Di was signed up for Social Security last year, which is a program meant to augment pensions. Between that change and some things in Doug’s pension, we didn't have enough withholding so had to change that long distance. SSA has a wonderfully helpful website which puts you in all kinds of loops. Who would most benefit from doing business online? Yes, expats, they are far away...who is not allowed to do business online? You guessed it. 

There's no turning back, now Di (at Cinqueterre)
Our favorite sunset pic from the terrace
Oh, another money topic for expatriates – managing American credit cards. While we appreciate those companies watching for fraud (alerts when a card has charges in a foreign land), sometimes the people we talk to don’t listen to the whole story. 
So, when we called in advance of the Sri Lanka trip we told them we would still need the cards to work in Italy. Yes, we had to make another call yesterday because our “travel dates” had expired in February. These calls to our American bank typically cost about €20 in mobile phone time.

But hey, the American stock market is surging, our tax payment is in the mail. Next (maybe) Italy will have another election to get a new coalition government formed. 

Cheers  Guido and Diana (happily doing our patriotic duty)

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