The Other I

November 8, 2007

Losing it

Filed under: Cultural Differences,Survival Strategies,The English — theotheri @ 9:57 pm

There’s a lot of things I don’t worry about anymore that used to cripple me when I was young.  Things like – do people like me?  did I just say something utterly stupid or insensitive?  am I making a worthwhile contribution in payment for the time and space I’ve been given on this planet?  do I look good in this outfit? 

But as I am getting old, I have found a few new things to worry about.  Like forgetting words or people’s names.  So I think the email from the accountant yesterday indicating that I’d vastly miscalculated my final tax bill was so shocking because I was afraid I was losing my faculties.  I was more shocked that I could have made a mistake of such proportions than I was upset about the tax I’m probably going to have to pay. 

The tax material came from the accountant today.  I’m afraid the final bill is going to be uncomfortably big, but I was hugely relieved to see that the reason I’d calculated quite a different sum was not because I am losing it.  I didn’t know that some calculations are applied differently to my tax return because I am an American than they are to my husband’s return who is English.  People here don’t seem to expect to know the tax rules.  They just give their numbers to an accountant and sign on the bottom line when the form is filled in for them, so it is difficult to get accurate information. 

Mostly I like the way the English do things.  But when it comes to understanding my own tax return, I’m thoroughly and irrevocably American.

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