Sunday, April 23, 2017

Notes from my Socialist Hellhole: Filing Taxes

As an American living abroad, I not only have to file taxes where I live and work (not America) but I have to file taxes where I don't live or work (America). Only two countries in the world require this of citizens living overseas: the U.S. and Eritrea. The exceptionally awful bit is that even if I legally owe zero dollars in taxes to the U.S., I can incur enormous fines for not filing my taxes, or for filing them incorrectly. 

Because of this, I filed my American taxes about a month early. This involved: calculating my salary here, taking into account my taxes, filling out a 1040-EZ, filling out a foreign earned income exclusion form, printing it all out, checking it, signing it, making extra copies for my records,buying stamps, buying envelopes, and then mailing it. Including extensive preliminary research to be sure nothing had changed in international tax laws for American citizens, this took about five hours. 

Here is how I filed taxes in Sweden: the government mailed me a blue envelope, I opened it, made sure the pre-filled form had my correct personal information, and then I logged into an app on my phone and submitted my taxes with a simple checkbox text message. The end.

Since everything runs through an organization known as Skatteverket, the government is able to take my income information, automatically generate it into the correct form, and then automatically print it and mail it to me. As a worker in Sweden, I automatically have a Skatteverket account associated with my personnummer, so it's all taken care of. My tax return amount was already on the form I received, and it will be sent to me via direct deposit (as my bank account is also linked to Skatteverket). 

Taxes filed with a text message confirmation that the form I did not have to request, research, or fill out was correct? I'll take it.