“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
Life in Italy isn’t always a Hollywood montage of accordion-infused wine and Gucci models on Vespas. (To that point, Sara Rosso of Ms. Adventures in Italy recently summed up some of the least glamorous details of expat life in “Those Lucky Bastards…right?”) True, there is more than enough glamour and romance and adventure here to make putting down roots into Italian soil worth every bureaucratic migraine, but… well, consider these two horrifying words: tax season.
We are American citizens with residence in Italy, which means we file taxes in both countries. Now, Italian tax law is like a mile of yarn twisted into an intricate ball. While modern lawmakers recognize that the yarn has become discolored and frayed over time, they can’t begin to think how to unravel the mess, so they simply tie new wads of legislature to the outside. The universally accepted solution here is to hire an accountant and pray that he knows what he’s doing.
American tax laws, on the other hand, are laid out in such exhaustive accessibility that I can never bear to pay someone to do in one hour what I could figure out myself in one hundred… million. Plus, I get some kind of demented thrill by entering numbers into financial forms. The weeks leading up to April 15th each year are a lot like those centrifugal force carnival rides—painful, nauseating fun that is always more endurable in retrospect.
I’m not to the retrospect stage yet this year. In fact, I’m feeling thoroughly green around the edges. However, while I convert euros to dollars and look up obscure self-employed-expat tax limitations and throw up occasionally and pray harder than ever that our Italian accountant knows more about his country’s laws than I do about mine, those Hollywood montages help more than anything. A little starry-eyed perspective goes a long way here in the valley between international bureaucracies, I’ve discovered. Especially the part about wine.
How do you feel about tax season? No, really?