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Things you don’t like to see in your inbox

This isn’t spam. I’m registered with the US Embassy in London, so’s somebody knows where I’m supposed to be in case I…bump into Dennis Moore and I’m fresh out of lupins or something.

They don’t contact me often. The previous email I got from them was telling me the last mailing day for packages to reach home by Christmas. Then this.

The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 18, 2012, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

I don’t remember getting a Caution in July. I think it would’ve stuck in my head. Anyhoo, it rambles on for two thousand words of badly-formatted blah-blah-blah — stuff pretty much anyone who follows international news would probably know. This bit was cute:

In September 2012, civil unrest, large scale protests and demonstrations as well as violent attacks – some of which were in reaction to an anti-Islamic video and cartoons – targeted U.S. missions and schools overseas including in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen.

That’s as close as it got to Benghazi. Note the dollop of weasel sauce in the middle. If anyone wants a copy of the whole boring thing, I’ll send it to you or post it or something.

So! Why? And why now?


Comment from Redd
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:33 am

Stoaty: Will you have to provide proof of med. insurance even though you live outside the US?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:43 am

Hm. Probably not. But I’m in an odd tax situation.

I’m supposed to file W2 every year, even if I never come back to the States again. The way it works, I tell Uncle Sam what I made, what I paid in taxes, and the latter is deducted from what I might owe to the IRS on the former. I haven’t filed anything, though.

Problem is, I make enough to file in the UK, but not to pay any taxes on it. So…I don’t quite know how to handle it. I have an instinctive feeling that anyone who earns so little she can’t work out how to file her taxes is not going to be very interesting to the IRS, but you never know.

Comment from Giles
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:45 am

I was going to say, 6-monthly scheduled post?

And then I realised it was just over seven months.

And then I realised it was from the government.

So, 6-monthly scheduled post?

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:52 am

Isn’t John Carry in charge of your state department now?…maybe he’s trying to say ‘New Management’ after Hillary’s disastrous reign.

Comment from Redd
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:53 am

The way I understand it, and I don’t understand it very well since it makes little sense, regardless of income, we must provide proof of medical insurance with our income tax filings. I guess you would just say you are covered under the NHS. But the fact that you have to do it whether you have to file or not based on income, is galling.

Comment from Timothy S. Carlson
Time: February 21, 2013, 1:35 am

I’m registered with the embassy in Manila, so I get these notices also. Plus some extras that Stoaty doesn’t get because they are Philippines-centric (we have the unfortunately named MILF and other rebel factions in the southern islands).

I received one before the holidays warning Americans to be vigilant when traveling to Manila, especially around the US Embassy and the red light district. But I repeat myself.

Obamacare taxes for expatriates – I think Stoaty and I are the lucky ones and won’t need to provide proof, buy US insurance, pay fines, etc. In my case, I have the wonderful addition of NOT having to pay for Medicare out of my SSDI, since there are no providers in the Philippines that accept Medicare. Basically, I’m on my own for healthcare and that’s the way I like it.

Taxes for expatriates – I don’t know about the rules for those that actually work outside the US, but because I am on SSDI and have no other income, I don’t pay a dime. 0, 0, 0, 0, and ZERO on my return. Yes, I still have to file, AND expats have the additional burden of filing a form 8938, listing _all_ of their bank accounts and assets outside of the US. Is this an anti-money laundering scheme by the US gov’t? Or are they compiling a list of future sources of tax revenue? Who knows. I lean more towards the US gov’t being a bunch of money-grubbing scheming scumbags.

Stoaty – I collect benefits, so I can’t renounce my US citizenship. But have you ever thought about becoming a citizen of the British Empire, so you can renounce yours? Or is the tax situation there worse than the US? BTW: Did you know that renouncing your citizenship involves a _lengthy_ interview where they try to talk you out of it AND paying a $450 fee? Sounds worse than trying to cancel a cell phone contract. I wonder if they call you every few weeks, seeing if you want to come back at a discounted rate? Heh.

Comment from AltBBrown
Time: February 21, 2013, 2:09 am

“…some of which were in reaction to an anti-Islamic video and cartoons…”
Still playing CYA for Benghazi, the scum.

Comment from Nicole
Time: February 21, 2013, 2:43 am

Yeah… makes me wonder if it’s a regular update or something new they aren’t quite coming out with to us plebes. I’m planning a trip to some sort of …unsettled places… in June and I’m more than a little interested in this. Maybe I need to sign up for alerts or something.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: February 21, 2013, 4:27 am

That video had NOTHING to do with the murder of our gun-running ambassador. The poor slob who made the video is still in jail here, but not for making the video either.

But the real question: do employers in europe send American W2s to employees who are American? Really? Do they do this for, say, French people. If so, why did Depardieu bother to move?

And, does TurboTax work in England? Thats the only way I can figure my taxes and I live in America.

Comment from MIke C.
Time: February 21, 2013, 10:30 am

First point – We used to get those notices all the time when we lived in Doha. Some of them were real (come and get your gas masks), but most of them were essentially warnings to not run naked down the main streets while screaming at locals and waving an American flag. Thanks guys.

Second point – Yes Stotie, if you make more than the equivalent of (I think) $ 600 US/year, you have to file. I suspect the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion will way more than cover every farthing you make, so you won’t owe anything, but you do have a legal obligation to file.

And as to the question above, no, foreign entities/governments do not issue W-2 or 1099 forms just because you happen to be a gringo. Why should they? That’s not a problem when filing US federal tax returns.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 21, 2013, 12:18 pm

Well, it made the front page of Drudge, so I guess the breadth of this warning was unusual.

I did my taxes via TurboTax the first year, because I was dealing with my corporate income from my old life. But I haven’t done my returns for the following three years (the first of which, my income was 0).

The plan is to take dual citizenship, but I wouldn’t renounce my US citizenship without a hell of a lot more provocation.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: February 21, 2013, 7:08 pm

Probably my age, but if I lived in one country all year, paid their taxes, etc — I sure wouldn’t pay taxes to another just because they wanted my money.

I’m having a hard enough time to pay taxes in the one country I live in!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 21, 2013, 7:41 pm

You don’t end up paying to both unless you’re making shit tons of money. You pay one and deduct it from the other.

Kind of like living in one state and working in another, if you’ve ever had the joy of doing THAT paperwork.+

Comment from MIke C.
Time: February 22, 2013, 8:05 am

If you made zero one year, you didn’t have to file, so that’s not a problem. You can always go back and file for years you missed – people do it all the time. If you make less than the minimum income threshold, you’re off the hook. I think the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion is $ 75,000 US/year, so if you’re under that, you’re home free anyway, not even counting things like the standard and personal deductions and deductions for any UK taxes paid. The IRS is not going to hunt you down for late filing a year where you had no taxable income – there’s no money for them in that.

NOTE: If you’re making more than $ 75 K/year from this blog, I want to talk to you, stat!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 22, 2013, 12:16 pm

Well, I never literally make zero. I have a small amount of interest income. And I mean small.

Sigh. I’ll put it on the mental list.

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