Difficulties for a UK Based Writer – Taxes

11 Jun

Thursday 9th June 2011 – A Day of Paradoxes

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

Though it’s been many years since Ben Franklin said these words they’re still just as true, especially if you’re a UK based writer selling to the US. On top of the VAT put on my books I got a 30% super tax for not being based in the states. Now I have to try and get it back.

I never realised that trying to reclaim money that was rightfully yours could be so difficult. Today has been a trying day and it all began with a postcode and a bike.

I’m a cyclist and proud of it, cycling helps me get into shape and is a very cheap method of transport. It is however very taxing on the body and I for one never imagined that I’d be cycling for so long!
To reclaim your taxes without sending off your passport involves a trip to the US embassy which according to the postcode I put into google maps was easy to get to. Ha! What a joke. I spent about an hour getting lost before realising that there were two postcodes for the US embassy on their website.

Answer me this: What sort of place has or feels the need to have two seperate postcodes for the same building? It isn’t in two places!

I managed to get to the second postcode after getting lost for another twenty minutes and arrived at the US embassy and after being ignored for a while eventually got directions on how to enter the building.

In my head I always thought it was easy to enter an embassy, a receptionist would point you in the general direction of the department you needed and you’d be on your way. The reality in no way matched to my imagination. It was like I was entering a fort. I couldn’t take anything with me but their website had in no way prepared me for this. With my bike on my person there was no way they were going to let me enter the building. I tried to argue my case but the security guard was having none of it.

In order to understand my confusion you have to understand that my bike is a brompton and folds up to be smaller than a suitcase.

I was directed to a pharmacist that offered storage and had to plead with him to take my bike. This is where the paradoxes start. I had to practically beg someone to take my £700 bike from my possession. In any other situation it would have been stolen as soon as I put it down…

I managed to convince the pharmacist to take my bike but he then told me that I had to leave my phone, my keys and my headphones before the embassy would let me in. I could understand why I had to leave the bike, the keys and even my phone but my headphones! Seriously, what damage is a pair of headphones capable of? I’m not sure but maybe the embassy has different intel.

When I did finally get into the embassy the IRS agent was exceedingly helpful but he did let me know that it could take up to twelve weeks for me to get the tax code that would make me exempt from the super tax. This is where another paradox comes in, now that I’ve made the application I need to contact amazon and ask them NOT to pay me because I won’t be able to reclaim the tax until next year…

But even though I feel that the tax man has won this battle there was a sign in the IRS office that made me smile. If it makes you smile too, let me know.

“Dear IRS, I’d like to cancel my subscription. Please remove me from your mailing list.” 

Now while it’s become apparent to me that there’s no way you can avoid taxes, that clearly doesn’t stop some people from trying.


Posted by on 11/06/2011 in Writing


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4 responses to “Difficulties for a UK Based Writer – Taxes

  1. Kassandra Duric

    13/06/2011 at 2:28 pm

    Holly crap. That sounds like a big disaster. I don’t even think there’s anything that heavily on the security department here in Canada. Well maybe there is, I just haven’t ran into them yet. But damn, you really have to tell Amazon not to pay you until next year? Ouch, that sucks.

    • jennyt82

      13/06/2011 at 7:19 pm

      Yeah I thought it did too but i got an email from Amazon APOLOGISING for withholding my taxes!!! They said they’ll pay me the taxes they withheld for last month but i do have to arrange for my tax code othewise they’ll have to withhold future taxes. I really don’t like the idea of that!

  2. Rose

    13/06/2011 at 6:10 pm

    I had no idea that the u.s. embassy was that much of a pain…its making me rethink my 2 week trip to Japan in a few weeks.

    P.s epic bike

    • jennyt82

      13/06/2011 at 7:24 pm

      You’ll be fine. Just take someone with you to hold your important things or leave the following things behind:
      – Phone
      – Headphones
      – Nail Clippers
      – Keys with fobs
      – Anything that’s made of strong metal

      I do find it strange that none of this is listed on their website….
      Don’t rethink Japan!! I’ll feel so guilty if you missed Japan because of something I said! I’d love to go to Japan. I’m a total otaku! Go and enjoy yourself!!


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