April 15th is getting closer and closer. Americans all over the world are starting the horrendous hue and cry that makes outsiders think that some sort of illegal torture is going on. Collectively, I think American’s resting blood pressure numbers are going up 10 or 15 points, or more.
Tempers are short. Spouses snap at each other and “make tampo”. Children get hollered at for no reason. Dogs get kicked when they haven’t even chewed a slipper in weeks.
Bar and liquor store owners are happy though, as alcohol consumption is definitely up. Tempers flare and flame wars flow back and forth across the Internet. OMG, Tax Time!. Gentle readers, let me teach you a very little bit of Pilipino/Tagalog slang which will help you out immensely.
- 1 Tama Na!
- 2 Perspective:
- 3 Taxes Were Almost The Entire Article!
- 4 Every Single Country Comparison Just Focused On TAXES.
- 5 Renouncing Citizenship To Avoid Taxes
- 6 Do You Know What US Citizenship Is Worth?
- 7 Conclusion: Just Pay The Two Dollars
Loosely translated, “Enough, already”!
Folks, nobody really like paying taxes, but really and truly, especially for those folks like me, who are alleged to be retired and have moved to the Philippines for a more laid back, relaxed lifestyle, all this stress, anger and life-shortening temper tantrums are just not worth it. Taxes are JUST not big of a deal.
A couple days ago I read an ar4ticle on, I believe, CNN.com. It caught my eye because it was entitled something like the “Top Ten Countries To Retire In”. Well hey, of course I am going to read that.
It was arranged in 10 parts, an individual web page for each country the author had chosen to write about. I started reading with great enthusiasm, but quickly lost interest. Why?
Taxes Were Almost The Entire Article!
Yep. Even though I was interested in seeing why the author had chosen to recommend the Philippines (rare in these sort of articles), and because I was also interested in figuring out why he had completely ignored Thailand among countries in Southeast Asia, I wound up just skimming the major points and left the article before I even though of copying the link, pulling some quotes, etc. Why?
Every Single Country Comparison Just Focused On TAXES.
You know in many countries in South and Central America … Panama and Costa Rica and Chile to name a few, there are some real tax advantages on the books. Great.
But for a guy like me who only ever pays a few thousand in taxes a year, and ALWAYS gets a refund back, saving a few hundred here or a few hundred there is hardly going to have much influence in where I am going to retire. How utterly f-ing BORING.
Jeeze, get a life, people. What about issues like long-term visas for retirees, health care, health insurance, local culture, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, can you get a driver’s license easily, how about actually owning property versus renting it … the list could go on and on.
One glaring example I saw … unlike anywhere else I’ve ever thought of retiring, in Panama, the “local currency” is the good old US dollar. No hassling or expenses with foreign exchange issues. You think THAT isn’t more important that saving some negligible amount in taxes over, say, Costa Rica? the author didn’t even see fit to mention that fact .. just more boring gobbled-gook about minor taxation differences.
Taxes are a factor, but to shape your life around something that adds up to way less than few months of grocery store spending? Way less than your annual electric bill in some cases? Whacky to say the least.
And here’s what I guess you might call a “crowning touch”.
Renouncing Citizenship To Avoid Taxes
One might think this is fantasy. A while back I rad an article that said several thousand people per year, right here in the Philippines, were renouncing their US citizenship rather than be subject to US taxes. I was dumbfounded. The article was in a major Philippine newspaper and the co9lumnist who wrote it was a well known journalist here in the Philippines.
I immediately thought he had gotten ahold of some bad information, and I wrote and told him so.
Well, did I learn something. Wow! His facts were 100% right. An astounding number of US citizens (here in the Philippines, mostly “Phil-Am” US citizens, ARE going to the US Embassy, filling up the forms. paying the (not cheap) fee, getting an appointment with a Consular Officer (the only way you can legally renounce your US citizenship) and tossing aside their right to carry the Blue Passport.
I was amazed, and of course apologized to the writer I had questioned. It boggles my mind.
Do You Know What US Citizenship Is Worth?
There are people all over the world who would sell their first-born child for US citizenship. (sadly, some actually have done illegal acts like that).
There are Filipinos all over this country, and hundreds of thousands overseas who would give up almost everything they own for US citizenship.
There are something like 400,000 Filipinos in the USA “Tago ng tago” (literally “hiding and hiding”), hoping they won’t get arrested and shipped back to the Philippines.
I can’t imagine what some of them would give up to get US citizenship.
And yet thousands of US citizens are renouncing US citizenship to avoid a few dollars of taxes? Talk about “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face”. Amazing.
To intentionally misquote Cecil Rhodes (who probably would have said it this way had he been born an American rather than an Englishman) "To Be Born An American Is To Win First Prize In God’s Lottery".
Conclusion: Just Pay The Two Dollars
For those of you too young to remember vaudeville (which mans most of you reading this) there was a famous routine done over the years by several teams of performers. The gist of the “skit’ was that a fellow had gotten a ticket for something like spitting in the subway, which involved a two dollar fine.
But instead of paying, the second team member, an eager lawyer, convinced the expectorator to go to court over the ticket.
Many pitfalls and pratfalls later the original miscreant winds up being found guilty of murder, and during the whole farce the judge keeps telling him, “Just pay the two dollars”.
If you want to have a happy and stress free retirement, guys and gals … in the Philippines or anywhere else you happen to land, you have to put things in perspective.
Live a little and put taxes in perspective. You’ll live a richer life, that I can guarantee.