So the bane of my existence managed to kill another dream of mine. And who would've thought that the tax man would rear its ugly head on the other side of the globe? But alas, there he was, waiting for us...
You see, this most recent opportunity at relocating to Asia was attempt number three for me. The first one lasted only a few weeks before it dawned on me that one could easily get into trouble over there in Beijing, especially when unaccompanied by their wiser significant other. Joyce and I were engaged at the time and she was going to hang back here while I completed my studies over there. Well, needless to say, I came back when the whole long-distance relationship thing was not going to work for these two kids. Attempt number two came when a little start-up I was at got gobbled up by this other shop. With that, came the opportunity to take up a new position on the mainland. But there was a big problem, I was working my way through another attempt at grad school so I couldn't just pickup and leave.Well, I guess I could've just dropped everything and left, but having already invested some serious coinage into some schooling, I didn't want to just let it go.
Fast-forward a few years, toss in a some kids, a mortgage, some extra pounds and a few white hairs, I finally thought that this was it. I was finally going to fulfill a dream! Some people keep score in life by dollars and cents, others by possessions or titles, but not me. I just want to reach a damn goal! Others need to climb that crazy high mountain, while another may want to squeeze out a few more seconds from their lap time. Me? I just want to live in Asia for a bit and prove to myself that I could succeed there as a professional. Why? I don't know, because it's friggin there! This time around, it was supposed to be a shoo-in. But nope, wasn't going to happen and here's why...
Being a US citizen, you're pretty much chained to the tax man no matter how far off you go. Even if I planted my ass on the moon and sat there selling rocks to astronauts, Uncle Sam would get his piece of the pie. That's all fine and dandy as I was already expecting that. Sure, you get some minor foreign income tax relief, but he still nails ya on the rest. Working in HK would make me privy to their local income taxes as well. Again, something I already anticipated and my company was willing to work with me on that. Now come the surprises - Taiwan taxes! With some helpful advice from my company's accountants, I learned that Taiwan is NOT an expat friendly place. In order to be exempt from taxes over there, one has to be a non-resident. In order to that, you have to be out of the country for at least 183 days a year. That is something I do not want to do. So what happens if I stay in Taiwan and get counted as a resident? Even though my income would all come from outside of Taiwan, they'd still tax me. And for some unknown reason, they have this stupid ass concept of an AMT as well, just like the one here in the States that rapes our bank account every year. Long story short, a 40% income tax rate does not make for a happy person. I'm sure I didn't relay all the details accurately, but the result is the same. And my company sure as hell wasn't going to pay the tax bill in HK and in Taiwan for me. So to that, I said no thanks and we'll be staying put here in Virginia for the foreseeable future. But all is not lost, we can still experience Taiwan by proxy with bunch of dramas! We're currently working our way through this one:
Tuesday, August 26, 2014