Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Whenever I dive into a stack of US government forms, such as for taxes or passports or military records, I get the same feeling I get regarding my luggage when I land at Kennedy Airport. It's basically an adversarial relationship from the get-go. But in this case, I'm the presumed would-be sneaking, lowdown crook looking to steal the goods. Which goods, however, were mine to begin with. Odd how things get turned around like that when you're dealing with the government your forebears established to protect your interests.

This basic attitude, directed equally toward each and every citizen (excepting those with accountants) is well reflected in the phrasing right at the top of the transcendantly titled "Statement of Claimant or Other Person" (who else is left?), one sheet among the many that comprise the small-town phonebook-sized packet of Social Security forms I as an expat have to fill out so as to get my own money back (I really don't expect much more, in terms of actual value), to which Agency I and my employers faithfully paid in full, all aboveboard, for a sufficient number of years: "I fully understand that a felony crime equals any crime punishable by a sentence of death or imprisonment..." Anybody else here on death row check the wrong box?

Every other form in the phone book as well, in one way or another, demonstrates this seriously distrustful attitude of the government toward me trying to steal my hard-earned cash: "...commits a crime punishable by under Federal law by fine, imprisonment or both." Well, nice to see you, too.

In Japan, though the government/resident attitude isn't exactly hail-fellow-well-met (especially at Immigration), I was never threatened with death on my pension forms.


Anonymous said...

tax forms are not much fun but I actually got credited seven pounds after I did my form this year (and the british self asessment tax form is now online which helps).

unfortunately as the amount is under 10 pounds, it's being carried forward to next year's total. and there was me almost receiving a cheque from the inland revenue. ah well.

Robert Brady said...

And it's your money, too! Of course, they'll pay you the same interest they demand from you for late payment... BTW, do your tax forms threaten imprisonment or worse? My US tax forms are now looming as well, jangling the keys...