National Assessment and Taxes

Today all high school students across Korea are taking a National Assessment. I’m not exactly sure what it’s about, but I can only assume it’s something like a state-exam Benchmark test. (In Texas, it’s been called the TAAS, TAKS, and now/soon EOC.) This was pretty awesome for me because it meant no classes. Mondays and Tuesdays wear me out! By the way, fo all the teachers at the school, there are not many that have the same amount of classes as me (and even fewer teach more).

Yesterday, one of my co-workers (former co-teacher),who is pretty awesome, wanted to ask the Vice Principal for me about staying home for the day. She prepared for the ‘meeting’ by putting on some perfume and brushing her teeth. She told me that one of her mentor teachers once told her that principals and vice principals are more likely to approve the question if you are clean and smell nice.  (On that note, I have YET to see a female principal or VP in Korea…sexism?  You bet!)  She also wanted me to go along so he could see my slight limp. I don’t know if it was her grooming or my sympathy vote but I got to stay home (which means  ‘on call’ so to speak).

I decided to be at least somewhat productive today. So, I tackled my taxes. Want to hear something pretty lame? All the foreigners here are potentially subjected to income taxes both by their home country AND Korea. Luckily, Korea kind of rocks when it comes to their taxes and it makes the administration offices of the businesses handle everyone’s taxes for that company. (So they’ll be the ones coming up and telling you that owe the remainder of the 15% of your income to Korea…if, for whatever reason, not enough pay was deducted.) Something that rocks for Americans is a two-year waiver from a foreign country’s income taxes (as long as you submit the Certification of US Residency–which you should apply for before you go abroad). So I didn’t have to worry about Korean taxes but I did have to worry about my home country taxes.

Filing for my taxes is a bit silly and just plain irritating, in my opinion. As long as you make under the equivalent of about $90,000 USD for one year and stay out of the states/US territories for 336 days, then all of your income is tax free. As a good citizen, you should file. Note: I said “good” citizen. Obviously, America (as well as other countries, I’m sure) have problems making sure that their citizens abroad are reporting their income. Anyway, I decided to just file it and save myself from a potentially future head ache.

I used H&R Block, which was convenient, quick, and (best of all) free! Unfortunately, the US government won’t allow you to file one of the papers electronically so you have to snail-mail your all your tax-papers. It was pretty frustrating to realize this, and then I had to find somewhere to print it out…I usually rely on my school printer. So, doing my good deeds as an American citizen cost me about $17 (a little over 17,000Won). I paid a little extra for insurance: I don’t want to possibly have my social security number taken and I really hope it’s delivered! And to top it all off…my paperwork gets sent to Austin! (an hour from my hometown!) Had I known all this before, I would have filed when I was in Texas last month–live and learn.

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