Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Easter


I was in Cold Storage a few days ago and noticed the price of Easter candy. One would need to take out a bank loan to afford to buy the candies, which back home would cost a few dollars. I was discussing the prices with a woman from Australia who decided there would be no Easter baskets for her kids this year. I didn't see any Easter hams either, but anyway I hope everyone has a very happy Easter.

A Reminder to My Fellow Americans Living Abroad

Yesterday I finished filing my state and federal income taxes, a yearly task that I really hate. With the continuing heat and humidity here in Penang this task was even more annoying. When I first moved to Penang, I discovered that the major on-line tax preparation sites, like TurboTax and H&R Block, did not accept foreign addresses. I searched the IRS website and discovered that there were a few free preparation sites where foreign addresses are accepted. For the past couple of years I have been using TaxAct and am completely satisfied with it. I would recommend it for those Americans living abroad or those thinking of moving abroad, who would like to efile their returns.

In addition to filing income taxes Americans living abroad are shackled with the requirement of submitting 2 other forms. One of these is the FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) and the other is the FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). The FBAR requires Americans living abroad to supply to the Department of the Treasury a list of all bank accounts which they have in a foreign country. The FATCA is similar, but has requirements of a minimum of $200,0000 is assets. Luckily I do not have to submit the FATCA. With the FBAR, you must report the amount in each account at its highest amount, which is ridiculous. If you transferred $100,000 from your US bank account to your Malaysian account of say $5000 in order to buy a house on one day and then spent the $100,000 an hour later to pay for your house, you have to report your account as having $105,000, even it was for just one hour! How many people in the US keep track of when they have the most money in their accounts?

For those Americans thinking of moving to Malaysia after retirement, this is just another fun thing to do with your free time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Finally the Rains Have Arrived

For the past few weeks I have not posted anything on this blog for basically two reasons, neither of which I had any control over. It seems that since Chinese New Year the gates of hell opened up allowing extreme heat and humidity to overtake Penang. The heat and humidity has been oppressive. The temperature have been in the 90's and the humidity in the upper 60's and 70's.  Just sitting and watching television caused you to sweat and often after taking a shower to cool of you were covered in sweat again. It seemed that both the heat and humidity steadily increased during the day and reached its peak in the evenings.

For me going to the gym was quite a chore, even though it was only a five minute walk to the gym. There was no movement of air and the haze added to the poor quality of air. Things were no better in the gym as they didn't bother turning any fans on for air circulation. Most people with breathing problems were adversely effected by the weather causing shortness of breath and other illnesses. Just about everyone I knew, including myself, came down with some sort of flu, some with respiratory symptoms only and others with both respiratory and gastro-intestinal symptoms. I had very little energy or ambition to sit down and write.

I will admit that at one time I did start to write a post, but my Internet was so slow that it was just about non existent. I have two Internet services available to me. One is ours, which is we pay for and the other is a neighbors. We both share each other's Internet services via a wireless network. Neither of these services have been at their best for the past month. We have tried every ISP available to us in Penang and have found all of them to be substandard. I believe the problem is not with the providers, but with condo I live in. I have been told that the wiring for phone and Internet services is cheap and outdated, which effects the quality of the Internet. When I published my last post on Retired in Malaysia, it took me almost 2 hours to write, publish, and submit my post due to the slowness of the Internet.

About an hour ago the skies darkened and a thunderstorm
brought welcome heavy rain and cooler temperatures to Penang. The temperature has dropped and the haze and humidity have disappeared leaving a cloudy pleasant afternoon. Hopefully, as happens many times here, the sun will not come out and dry up the rain leaving a virtual steam bath. Now that Mother Nature has taken care of the terrible weather, I only hope that a miracle will occur and bring me fiber optic Internet service!