Morning of grass, Wi-Fi & tax

View through the bedroom window this morning. Smells great at night.

ABEL THE DEADPAN Yardman normally comes Saturday mornings to cut the grass, but when I heard explosions from the neighborhood plaza at 6 a.m., I knew he wouldn’t arrive.

There was also live music, and Abel is a horn man.

His wife did come, however, to tell us what I already knew. She said he’d be here tomorrow morning instead, and he likely will. He’s pretty reliable.

While the grass continues to grow wildly, the doorbell rang again. It was a technician from Telmex, the phone company that is one of my two WiFi providers. Telmex’s service went dead last Saturday. Having two WiFi providers is a no-brainer in Mexico.

You want both suspenders and belt.

He switched modems, and I’m back in business. I don’t like to rely on the other provider, which is a TV cable company. Its WiFi takes a siesta from a few minutes to a couple of hours most days starting around noon.

As I do every second Saturday, I drove downtown to the post office before 9 a.m. to check my box, which usually is empty, but not always. I found what no one wants to find, a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.

It says I owe $1,206, including interest and penalties. There is a phone number, but it won’t be available till Monday. I bet this has to do with a screw-up of mine. I e-filed in March, as always, and immediately on hitting the Send button, I noticed a big error.

A YUGE one.

I quickly filled out an Amended 1040 (first time ever) and sent it via registered mail. You cannot e-file amended returns. It got there a couple of weeks later, I noticed through tracking. The amended form showed, correctly, that I overpaid by $842, which I applied to next year’s return, as always.

My income has been fairly steady for quite a few years, so I know what I owe. I overpay intentionally, and always apply it to the next year. If I have to pay from Mexico, it could be dicey. I have no U.S. bank account or credit card. There are services that let you pay the IRS by credit card, and if it comes to that, I hope they’ll accept a Mexican credit card,* and even if they do, I hope my bank won’t balk.

Always best to overpay to avoid squabbles from down here.

The IRS letter was dated May 2, and I got it today, almost two months later. Actually, it arrived June 11, but I haven’t checked my PO box lately. I suspect the claim that I owe $1,200 is based on the bad 1040, not the amended one they would have received later.

I’ll find out Monday morning. The phone line opens at 5 a.m. my time.

Otherwise, summer is going well. The golden datura bush outside the bedroom window is starting to bloom, sending perfume into the bedroom at night, which is far better than having the IRS on my decrepit tail.

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* A decade or more ago, many U.S. online businesses would not accept a credit card issued by a Mexican bank, but I have not run into that problem in many years. The rampant discrimination ended. In any event, almost all major banks in Mexico are foreign-owned. 

Citibanamex (U.S.), Bancomer (Spain), Santander (Spain) and HSBC (Great Britain). I believe the sole Mexico-owned major bank is Banorte.

Life’s little things

I took this shot Saturday afternoon while sitting near the big plaza.

LIFE USUALLY consists of a series of little things, and mine’s no exception.

First, I had a gut infection a month back with symptoms similar to those of a year ago that inspired me to get a colonoscopy, which declared me clean of life-threatening stuff. This time, I visited a new gastro man who gave me pills that are returning me to normal. Getting old is not for sissies.

Second, I electronically filed my IRS Form 1040, and within 60 seconds of sending it down the electronic highway to Austin, I spotted a YUGE error. For the first time in my life, I have to send an amended 1040. Trouble is, you cannot e-file an amended 1040. You must stick it into snail mail.

Lord knows when they’ll get it.

Third, my child bride and her sister are going on their annual pilgrimage to the nearby town of Tzintzuntzan. This is a trek across highway, hill and dale on foot, and it lasts about three and a half hours. That takes place on Tuesday coming, so I’ll have much of the day off.

I’m not pilgrim material.

Fourth, it appears we may make it to March without another freeze. Normally, March means we’re home-free, freeze-wise, but not necessarily. One year we sailed freeze-free through January and February and then got walloped in March. There was snow on mountain peaks in the distance. The Goddess can be malevolently playful.

Do not turn your back on her.

Early March a few years ago. Shot from the upstairs terraza.

Spring brings gobs of dust and crunchy, brown grass. It’s no fun, but it’s not freezing either. The dust is worse because it lasts weeks, months, till June when the rains begin. Spring is the pits in these parts.

Fifth, two weeks ago, workmen finished removing the red-clay roof that covered part of the upstairs terraza. It now sits bareheaded. The blacksmith promised the steel structure that will support the glass that will cover the entire terraza will be installed early next month.

New Image
Upstairs terraza awaits its new roof of glass and steel.

Sixth, of no interest to anyone but us, but I’ll mention it anyway — since it’s a little life thing — is that I’m canceling my longtime internet provider of 18 years. It’s a local business that was the only game in town when I moved to the mountaintop in 2000.

But things have changed drastically since then. Our television cable company, Megacable, also provides internet for just 100 pesos extra, about five bucks. We have that, and it’s fairly reliable. Having two providers is necessary here if you want to always have WiFi.

Is that true above the border?

The new No. 2 is Telmex’s Infinitum, which was installed earlier this week. It seems to be working fine. Now I have to break the cancellation news to my original provider, a business run by a fellow I know here. His service has always been quite good. My main objection is a butt-ugly antenna that now soars over the upstairs terraza. It will have to be removed anyway to install the new steel-and-glass roof.

Little life things. It would be boring without them.

The Democrat Party

THIS VIDEO was censored by YouTube.

The Unseen Moon brings it to you as part of its never-ending fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Like Superman.

Donating to Barry

I SENT MY kilo of carne to Barry yesterday. Yes, I filed my tax return.

Actually, I did not pay Barry yesterday. I paid him last year in the form of withholding when I took some cash out of an IRA. I pegged it very well, close to perfect, because I was due a refund of just $31.

turbineI imagine Barry will use my $4,969 to fund bald-eagle-killing wind turbines in Texas. My payment was nothing compared to the $13,000-plus federal heist that Steve Cotton suffered.

My tax return is a simple affair. We live on Social Security payments and a small pension from the Hearst Corp., my final employer. I toiled there 15 years. And occasionally we take money from the IRA. It’s when we take cash from the IRA that tax sometimes is due. The SS and pension alone is official U.S. poverty.

Thank the Goddess for the internet, which makes this yearly curse easy, labor-wise. Every year since moving over the Rio Bravo 15 years back I have used TurboTax, which is the most popular tax-filing website, it appears. However, a few times TurboTax has given me headaches, so I looked at alternatives this year.

One of the most popular options is TaxAct, and that’s what I used. It is far better than TurboTax. The only glitch, a temporary one, was when I neared the end of the process. What to do with the $31 refund? TaxAct showed only two options: electronic deposit to a U.S. bank or a check in the mail.

Neither of those work for me. Due to Barry (and this is true), I no longer have a U.S. bank. It was pulled out from beneath my feet last year due to fresh legislation known as FACTA, a poorly thought-out, Democrat-sponsored and Barry-signed piece of baloney that intended to catch fat cats with offshore accounts.

What it did mostly was torment retirees and other honest U.S. citizens living outside the United States.

A check in the mail is useless too because — also due to new U.S. legislation from the Democratic Party — Mexican banks no longer cash nor accept dollar checks for deposit. Unintended consequences.

When the U.S. bank closed my account — to avoid Barry’s onerous paperwork — I also lost my two U.S. credit cards that were paid in full each month from that bank account. I still have those cards, but I cannot use them because I cannot pay them. I paid for the TaxAct service with my wife’s HSBC credit card. HSBC will not give me a credit card because I am “too old.” I guess I could drop dead at any moment, and leave an unpaid balance.

Well, back to that $31 refund. I emailed TaxAct support because I was reasonably sure the refund could be applied to next year’s tax obligation. They answered the next day, pointing me to a rather obscure corner of the process where I could do that — and I did. Then I easily e-filed. I’ll be sticking with TaxAct.

Best of all was learning with certainty that I am exempt from Barry’s chaotic socialized medicine scheme due to living outside the United States. The advantages of living in Mexico keep piling up.

* * * *

I am not a fan of the president of the United States. I was borderline horrified today to read that a recent Gallup Poll showed his popularity had risen to near 50 percent again. Freaking incredible. Why?

BarryMany of the more rabid conservatives like to say Barry is a Mohammedan or that he was not born in the United States. I do not believe those things, but I do believe Barry is absolutely inept, a true child of the 1960s. Those of you who voted for him should do penance.

Re-education camps should be established for those who voted for him twice.

One of the best, most sober descriptions of the Barry situation that I have ever read is right here.