Friday, February 23, 2018

Have a Snickers!!

Yesterday Brenda and I continued our quest to make sure we were following the rules and dealing with our house sale in a proper way. Although we are Canadians and pay our taxes with pride back home, we owned a property here in Arizona and when we sold it we thought since we made some money on the transaction we had better make sure we were onside with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) here in the States.

We gathered all our papers, receipts, lists and other documentation together and headed into a tax preparer just down the road in Parker. He took all our information, pumped it into the system and out the other end came a Non-Resident Alien Tax Return. So far so good, it actually appears we don't owe any Federal Tax but do owe something to the Great State of Arizona.

Like back in Canada you need a number, SIN/SSN, specifically for us Non-Resident Aliens an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Our tax preparer figured that out and filled out that form for us as well. Well, it appears to receive that number we have to send our passports to the IRS and wait for them to verify them, then return them to us. Homeland Security and the Border Patrol folks want us to vacate the country before we reach six months and to do that we need our passports. Catch 22 eh!

No problem though there is a workaround, you just need to send a certified copy of your passport in and you can keep the actual physical document. The only catch is there are very few folks who are qualified to certify your passport. No problem though we looked at the list and found out that the Taxpayer Assistance Office in Yuma is one of the places you can go to get 'er done.

I jumped on the phone and made an appointment to see the ITIN passport certifying person yesterday in Yuma, apparently they only do that particular task on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

So, as I said, yesterday we loaded up the mutts and headed 2 and a half hours south to the Yuma office for an 11:15AM appointment. They told us we had to be there at 11:00, so in my normal fashion, we arrived about 10:30 in lots of time to let the dogs out for a walk and be there 15 minutes early anyway.

So we wandered into the office at 10:45AM. The armed security guard in the office had to rifle through Brenda's purse looking for, I guess an assault rifle or something, and I had to run back out to the truck to leave my pocket knife there. The waiting room was full of folks, most in the same situation as us, needing their passports verified so they can file their tax returns.

The way the office is set up and with the strident voice of the IRS official it is easy to hear everything going on in her private office, so we were wondering how this was going to go long before it was our turn. The folks in front of us left and the lady stopped by the security guard and told him "now I understand why you checked my purse".

About 45 minutes late the IRS lady came storming out of her office into the waiting room and said: "I am tired of wasting my time so 'what are you here for'". We told her we need our passports certified and without even looking at our papers she declared that she wouldn't do it as she wasn't trained in our issue. Seemed simple to me tax our completed application, make a certified copy, and I was even led to believe I could drop off my completed return with her.

Meanwhile, while she is ranting at us about us not understanding the tax code another person entered the waiting room and was standing there watching the whole episode. At that point, Brenda, probably wisely, left the room, probably just before telling this woman just where the bear shit in the buckwheat. Those who know about my last jobs know I am pretty used to folks losing their poop and I thought I could work through whatever was bugging her and makes some sense out of her ranting.

Dreamer eh! She started pulling pamphlets off the shelf and stuffing them in my face and telling me to read them and I could study the tax code at on the internet and when I was familiar with the tax code I could come back and file my return.

Having this diminutive Hispanic lady jumping up and down in front of me while I sat quietly in the waiting room haranguing me about my apparent lack of understanding of the tax code was a little disconcerting but in retrospect quite entertaining.

I confess although I routinely manage to file my own Canadian taxes without issue I am not well versed in the US Tax Code, hence why we hired a professional to do our American taxes.

It did become apparent to me that this woman was not in the Tax Assistance office to actually assist folks she was there to punch the clock and my suspicion, borne out by her statement that I was her last appointment of the day, and the young lady and baby watching with great interest waiting for her lunch date.

A little frustrating but interesting to see how the process works, I decided that my time would be better spent out walking the dogs and thanked the lady and the guard at the door for their time and said if anyone from the IRS decided they actually needed all these forms I would keep them on file for them.

I may just have discovered why the USA is running a 20 some trillion dollar deficit, they make it almost impossible for folks to pay their taxes. We do owe a small amount to Arizona, but are told without the Individual Tax Identification Number we will be unable to pay them. I think I will just send them my check and their return with a covering letter explaining that apparently I am unqualified to get that ITIN, so if they really need it before they can cash the check they will have to deal with the IRS.

Us, we are heading back out to the hinterlands and won't bug the IRS anymore.

Oh, back to the title, there are a great series of "Snickers" commercials that deal with the "hangry" issues, I am thinking Mr. Trump should spring for a box of Snickers for each of his ironically named "Taxpayer Assistance Offices"

Friday, February 2, 2018

Where Have We Been

Well we pulled out of our last spot a couple weeks ago and headed back to our old stomping grounds around Maricopa. We spent a night at Gila Bend filling what needed filling and emptying what needed emptying and then invaded a friends yard in Thunderbird Farms.

Brenda had an appointment with her Doc back north of the Medicine Line so I fired up the old Buick and dropped her at Sky Harbor and she was off with Westjet for the northern ranges. Once she was on her way to pups and I were on our own for almost a week so we spent a little time wandering the desert, hitting the mill down the road to restock our firewood supply and of course a visit to Costco to pick up a few necessities.

After a couple of day of moochdocking at Lorrie and Trish's place it was time to hit the road. I headed to an old favourite spot east of Gold Canyon near Picket Post mountain. I can sit and watch this mountain all day as it is constantly changing throughout the day.

Picket Post Mountain
We didn't spend the whole week watching the mountain though, we did take a spin down the Ray Road and back around through Christmas, Az to Globe. Lots of cool scenery on that scenic highway.

Queen Creek Bridge

Cool Cactus
 The moon was hanging in the sky most afternoons and I tried to capture it without a lot of success.

Daytime Moon 

And of course it is Arizona so there were pretty nice sunsets

Brenda came back a week or so ago and then she had some Calmare treatments for her CRPS scheduled for this week, so each day we ran into Gilbert and got that out of the way. To bad this treatment is not available back home as it seems to deal with her nerve pain quite well.

We did get to watch the full moon rising, It was a combination of a Blue Moon, a Super Moon, and the next morning was a full lunar eclipse so it ended with a Blood Moon. January's moon is called a Wolf Moon and February is a Snow Moon so I guess this must be a Snow Wolf Moon. Not much snow around here but I still remember what it looks like.

Blood Moon
This morning we hooked the truck up and wandered our way down through Florence, Coolidge, Casa Grande and here we are back in Gila Bend catching up on laundry and tank management before wandering a little farther west to see some friends from back in Canada.