-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Life sucks sometimes

I know in the scheme of things this isn't that bad but still, it has made me sad and ruined this evening. Two bad things in a row, now I'm just waiting for the third.

First, this afternoon I was outbid on Ebay for this wonderful armchair. I really really wanted it but I just couldn't justify bidding higher as we have nowhere to keep it here in London and thus it would have to be shipped back to Australia or stored expensively... it would just add up to too much. It ended up selling for 300 pounds, which is around US$600. I don't know why I love this chair so much but I do, there's something about the lines of it that make me just want to curl up in it with a good book. Anyway, I figured if I blogged the photos and the details from the auction then perhaps, one miraculous day when I have all this spare time (ha!) we'll be able to make a replica.

This is the Ebay description: "A wonderful 1920s-30s reclining armchair in beechwood. The chair has been recently professionally reupholstered in calico, all complying with fire regulations. The chair has shaped arms and parallel side slats echoing the curved headrest. A very comfortable lounger, in excellent condition, sturdy in structure and free from any woodworm. The smooth recline-action works perfectly with no damage. Measurements ~ 62cm wide, 54cm height of arms, 92cm high. Overall an interesting recliner that will add style to any Art Deco / Arts and Crafts theme".

fantastic armchair
Originally uploaded by lynetter.

Of course, in light of the second bad thing that happened today, it is probably a blessing in disguise that I didn't buy it. Apparently I owe the IRS nearly $2500. *sigh*. Yes, even though I live in the UK and was born in Australia, because of an accident of birth I'm a US citizen and thus have to file US tax returns. This is because my Dad was American... in fact he's not anymore as he gave it up to take out Australian citizenship when I was a kid but all that counts is that he was when I was born.

The US has this really annoying thing called "alternative minimum tax" which means if you earn over a certain amount, then no matter how much tax you've paid elsewhere (and the UK has *far* higher tax rates than the US, believe me), you still have to pay the US something. Normally it's not too bad but last year all went haywire because the US$ tanked and so it looked like my income, which is earned in pounds, skyrocketed - but of course it didn't since I live in the UK and all my bills are in pounds. I didn't even visit the US last year to get the benefit of the low exchange rate on shopping! Grrr... Anyway, I'd already paid the IRS some money when I filed my tax return in April but supposedly I calculated wrong so I owe them all this extra. I really hope they've got it wrong but I don't want to risk the penalties for paying late so I'm paying up right away.

What makes it slightly easier to bear was when I called the IRS tonight I got put through to a very nice guy who had much sympathy and is going to try and help me work out what I did wrong - so at least we can doublecheck their calculation and I'll know for the future. Even he couldn't figure it out as the special forms involved aren't on their computer system yet, so I've had to fax him my entire return and he's going to look through it manually. This makes me feel better because a) it makes me feel less stupid for getting it wrong if even the experts have trouble calculating it!; b) he said not to give up hope, there was a chance they may have made a mistake; and c) he was just so friendly. I can't imagine any other country's tax office being so helpful... but then, US tax forms are about a thousand times more complicated than in the UK or Australia so I suppose they have to be! Anyway, I'll just have to wait and see, but keep your fingers crossed.

And before you ask... why don't I just give up my US citizenship considering I don't live there or plan to? Mainly because nowadays it's really hard to do. And even if I did succeed in doing so, I'd still have to file & pay US tax for 10 years after giving it up so it wouldn't solve the problem. Besides, I do quite like having it and it would feel wrong to voluntarily give something up that others work so hard to get. I like having the option of moving to the US even if I never take it up. Nationality is a strange concept... I have 3 now (Australian, US and UK) so what does that make me? Hmmm...


Jocelyn said...

Wow- you are such a multi-national!

I can relate to losing on eBay- I find that really frustrating. After the last time, someone suggested using auctionsniper.com, which bids for you at the last possible moment- but if your high bid is lower than someone else's, you'll still lose. :(

and bummer on the taxes really-hopefully it will be an error- I will cross my american fingers for you :)

jmpottery said...

That's a really nice arm chair.. I can see why you were bummed to not get it. I'd love to have a set of those for our deck.

Jason @ House On Clover