关于第一年毕业留学生报税相关经验总结。

终于浑浑噩噩地在Taxact上弄完了一个联邦,两个州的报税信息。边弄边学也是醉了。今年前半年在学校还有拿工资,后半年工作。身份嘛还是F1,虽然有到OPT的转换,但是依然可以享受5000的treaty。但是2016年如果十月份转换了H1B理论上应该就不能用了,因为Treaty是给从国内直接过来的学生或者研究人员,如果一直OPT的话应该可以继续使用。但是,这个treaty也只是适用于联邦税,纽约州也接受这个treaty,但是加州是不承认此Treaty的,所以加州报税如果是软件填写,直接从联邦税里面拷贝过来的数值要加回5000,否则是有错误的。

  1. 如果可以早点购买报税软件就早一点,不过一般报税软件优惠都是到最后你吐血地填完表以后才出价格,由于诸多原因也许价格和你想的有出入,有些人忍忍也就交钱了,免得又填一份。给我的感觉是,如果你可以用报税软件,那么Taxact可能会比Turbotax便宜一点。一般所谓的软件优惠都是对于第一次新用户,所以老用户如果直接填上次的邮箱可能不会成功。所以其实每年打折扣的机会不一定多。今年依旧在Taxact上报,每份是24块钱。
  2. 对于中国人,反正我这种博士在学校待了超过五年后就可以用Resident Alien身份报税了,用软件还是稍微爽一点点。具体是我2008年8月来美,之后一直是以non-resident alien身份报税到2013年。包括2013年以后的年份我就用resident alien身份报了。
  3. 从Taxact来说,对于正常的收入,填W2然后一路选下去就可以了。但是如果你从学校出来的时候很有可能会有1042s。这个在Turbo和Taxact里面都是没有对应表格可以填写的。而1042s上如果你发现没有tax rate,那么它一般就是用来报你tax treaty的一部分收入,换句话说,学校1042s 上的收入 + 学校W2 上的收入= 你从学校来的总收入,如果1042s上记录未扣税的收入已经到达了5000,那么就相当于学校已经应用Tax treaty把你的头5000收入税给免了,如果没有1042s,那么就代表学校可能还是扣了你的工资的税,你可以从联邦或者纽约州政府要回来,但是加州就别想了。

这时你可能会问,如果1042s报的没有收税,我是不是就可以当没发生过不report,反正政府也没从里面扣。根据官方文件p519的第47页最右列开头,如果学校给你的报的方式是以taxable income,即便rate是0,好像还是要report。这个最好先和学校确认。

我的方法是,

a. 学校的1042s,W2,上班以后的W2都算在一起作为收入,报在总收入。

b. 然后应用Treaty在适当的地方减去 5000。

c. 在联邦税表里附上8833说明中美Tax treaty。

d. 如果你需要报的州承认中美treaty,那么啥都不用做,软件会在联邦里面计算的基础上给你得到享受treaty以后的结果。

e. 对于不承认treaty的州,请在合适位置加回5000,完成填表。

对于以上情况,除了联邦我打算额外附上8833表格,其他两州我真心不想自己寄了,所以还是用上E-file。情况是这样,报税软件每年的E-file表格都会有所不同,Taxact不会customize给你在某个E-file里放上其他的特殊的表格。但是,它给你那些表去填。至少在我这种情况下,如果想申报8833,那么在最后生成的E-file联邦文件里是不会附带8833表格的。想了一想还是稳妥点自己打印邮寄吧。州税放8833表也不合适,但是也懒得查放什么了,尤其是加州反正也没承认那5000,所以也就不想为了说明缘由搞得州税也不能E-file。

我们现在来说说上面的abcd几条。a 关于如何添加1042s的收入,TurboTax好像有人官方论坛问过,所以google一下就可以找到,我问Taxact的回答是,他们不提供1042s这个表格来report,所以说请把收入report在他们W2的表格里,通过新建另一个W2来完成。具体回复如下:

Form 1042-S is used to report amounts paid to foreign persons (including persons presumed to be foreign) that are subject to tax withholding, even if no amount is deducted and withheld from the payment because of a treaty or code exception to taxation or if any amount withheld was repaid to the payee. It is also used to report amounts withheld under Chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

You can enter this data in the program although Form 1042-S is not available in TaxAct.

In your situation you may need to report this amount as wages on Line 7 of the Form 1040.

To enter or review information from your Form(s) W-2 Wage and Tax Statement in the TaxAct program:

  1. From within your TaxAct return (Online or Desktop) click on the Federal tab. On smaller devices, click the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner, then select Federal.
  2. Click Wages and Salaries to expand the category and then click Wage income reported on Form W-2.
  3. Click Add to create a new copy of the form or click Review to review a form already created.
  4. Click Quick Entry or Step-by-Step Guidance to enter or review.
    1. If you select Quick Entry be sure to scroll down to answer all applicable questions.
    2. If you select Step-by-Step Guidance, the program will proceed with the interview questions.

后来一想,反正最后要邮寄,寄的时候附上1042s应该就可以了。这个方法主要是让系统可以把1042s的收入加到总收入,也就是1040的第7行。至于这个W2的内容,除了单位信息和收入值,其他我都留空为0。

b.这个请去Taxact 的Federal页面,other income条目下有一个“Prize和其他”的选项。可以在里面的other income里写-5000,并标注Exempt income China-US tax treaty。这个值最后会出现在1040的第21行。于是你就顺利完成了5000 tax treaty的使用。

官方的说法是在第21行把treaty的额度写在一个括号里,然后22行减除括号里面填的那个值。这个方法如果是手填可以做,软件的话肯定需要看符号计算所以还是写-5000。

c. 同时,请在Taxact侧边栏Form里面查找8833,然后按照网上标准模板根据自己的情况稍作修改填好下载下来。

d. 不需赘言。

e. 对于加州,mitbbs反馈已经说明加州好像不承认这个treaty。所以需要在加州tax的版面,选择adjustment,然后里面有一个页面有addition,和subtraction放在一起,请在addition里写5000,这样就配平回来了。

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

最后,在Taxact里面选择E-file的时候请选择最后一个选项,网页版好像有bug,最后一个不会写成e file states 而是写成  e file <你多个州中的一个>。 我就写的 e file California state。我一开始还以为纽约州不能 e file,不过最后还是发现它把两个州都走了一遍。

接下来就是处理联邦税的表格了,因为e file不能添加8833表格,所以即便我是resident alien可以 e file我还是得打印表格。这个选print file,然后选择Federal然后一路走到底就可以了。他会给出instruction告诉你怎么放置各个表格,以及签字。还是走原来邮寄准备表格的老方法啦。注意,就是如果打印出来的联合表格里面没有完整的8833表,那么请到TaxAct右上角,My Return下面的Print Center里面选择8833打印就好。

当然,正如我所说,每年这个tax软件都会有调整,所谓的折扣可能也是往往给新用户,所以以后真的收入复杂了还是考虑找CPA吧。

希望对大家有帮助!

 

 

How to buy a new car in US?

“To buy a car from a dealer, just one sentence you need to keep in mind: Know exactly what you want. If you are not sure, do your research before saying yes.”

Made my decision to get a new vehicle as a present for my 30. The whole process took about 3-4 weeks from no clue to drive the car home. Now I will try to talk about some of my experiences on this. In a word, to buy the car at the right price, is all about information and knowledge. If you don’t spend time to know about all the deals you can have, you give the extra money to the dealer. The steps below are what I encountered, you can treated as a reference. I do need to thank you my buddy Tao Shui for sharing car type and brand suggestions so I really saved a lot of time to choose between different cars and directly went to step 2.

SEARCH YOUR CAR

1. First, make your mind about the budget, and better know what kind of car you want. You don’t need to know the specific packages of the car, even you know, it may not be available at the local dealers. If you have multiple choice from different budget categories, no worry, keep them in the notes. At this stage, you should at least know that if you want front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD).

So what do you need to know to choose between FWD and AWD? To me AWD gives you better performance in bad weather area like where there is a lot of snow or the road is like the one in the mountain. Its drawbacks is more gasoline consumption, and the insurance may be more expensive comparing to the FWD since it needs more gears to control the 4 wheels. I have driven FWD sedan in the north New York state for 5 years, it is not that bad. I mean, if the snow is all over the place, you probably won’t go out.

Another factor is the time to buy, normally the end of the year is a good time since the dealer may want to achieve a good year sell-out number. They may be more friendly and less care about ripping you off. And do not buy a car when it just releases. Wait for 3 months.

And highly recommend to get a super nice credit card which comes with crazy rewards for the user to use it to make a thousand dollar purchase, such as chase Sapphire, which gives like 625 bucks if you spend several thousand dollars. This could be a super handy card later. Get one if you really have a chance.

2. Go to truecar.com  or edumus.com. These two website should be enough. Type in your car inside, It may ask your ideal configuration information and what kind package you want (I will tell more about the package later). Added simple configuration you really want and leave other or the one you don’t know, or just try not adding anything so just get the base model. Finally you will have a price chart. In truecar.com it will be something like below:

pic1

At the bottom left you can see the Factory Invoice price. OK, 90% of that before tax and license fees, should be what you try to achieve in the final price. Or you see the exceptional price? that is what you should try to get. Btw, below this chart you may also see the price change during the time after its first release.

3. Do the same quote at edumus.com and it will give you the dealers near your preferred locations in certain mile radius (set the mile readius as 200). Now try to contact with them about the car you want. Read this articles if you can understand Chinese to get a basic idea about how to contact dealers and let them bit the price. The idea is to send email to these dealers and ask for the car you want to check if they have them and how much they can offer, if they can match the price you find in the truecar.com good price categories (don’t try exception categories, they won’t say yes normally through email). Different from that article, dealer now may not will to give you a super good deal though email or phone. They will want you to come to their place and have true discussion on the vehicle.

4. In may case, email bit does not work well. But anyway, you need to pickup a dealer where you can test drive your car. Go to yelp to check the score of the dealership and you can just pick up your communication though email to make an appointment to test drive the vehicle.

5. The first time you go to a dealership, test drive your car along with a salesman and have a discussion with him about the car you want. If they have the type, rim, and package you hope to have. The dealerships normally share a database to locate the cars all over the states, if the car is close by, the dealer can exchange the car for you, so you don’t need to buy from the other dealer. This helps since if you lock down a price at dealership A, but unfortunately they don’t have the color of the car in stock or on the way, if you find the one in the other dealer close, dealership A can get that car for you. In this case, you can maintain the lock down price at dealer A without doing the possible negotiation again at the other dealership.

However, although the database is a good resource, the salesman may not try to find your car either intentionally or just really don’t have the cars. Their conclusion about “You may not get the type you want at now.” may not be true. They may just mistype the keywords or other things so the filter shows nothing about what you want. That is fine.

And even the same car comes with different packages, which are like extra features such as the moon roof, navigation system… I feel if you want a new car, you should try some cool stuff it try to provide. Basically, choose the premium package (middle class package) if you want to drive the car for your next 10 years.

So follow the salesman for the little difference configuration than what you expected. let him go over the whole procedure to get the price. Ask him what is the lowest he can over for it. What is the APR if you try to finance. FOCUS ON THE WHOLE PRICE FIRST! DO NOT TELL YOU HAVE SPECIAL DISCOUNT SUCH AS NEW GRADUATED STUDENT, MILITARY DISCOUNT, OR YOU WANT TO TRADE IN YOUR CAR!!!!! The reason is simple: Information. The dealer can extract profit from you if you provide more choice to them. Once they know you have certain brand discount, they may not willing to make the price too low. Once they know you want to trade in, they may lower the price for your new car, but give you a really bad price for your trade in. So they get the money back in the trade in procedure. Just don’t let them to have too much to work around at the beginning.

So keep to work on the price, dealer may get the retail worksheet, which is base on your current price of car get tax, plate, license, financial interest… everything inside. You also need to know your down payment. It is what you try to pay out-of-pocket at the beginning. If your loan has APR, you pay more at the beginning, you have less left to be used to calculate the interests, so you get less interests to pay. If you are not good at investment, work a number that is affordable so you don’t need to pay too much interests during the normal 60 month loan period.

OK, now you have the retail sheet done. You can do the same thing for the other type of the car, ask the salesman to print out the retail worksheet for you (You can ask them to do that). And keep them. Also ask them to print out the detailed configuration of the car they provide at the moment. And you can go home now.

RESEACH & CALCULATING

If now you still can get what you want at the beginning nearby, Congratulations! If not, Is up to you if you want to change your mind. But before that, as I said, these dealer may make mistakes and do not find your car, you can personally try on line some dealer nearby by yourself to see if they have stock of your type. I actually personally found the color I want at a near by dealer and ask tells dealer A about it, he then search again based on the information I provided he found it. Just let you know that it is possible. Now with the specific package and car type you have, go to true car again and get all the information there ( you can choose “I want to build my own” when choosing the package, it should give you the perfect match choice with the cars information you get from the dealers. N. ow what you see is the price for the car you want exactly. As I said, the exceptional price, or the factory invoice price – 2000 should be what you try to achieve before tax.

Feel you are ready? Try the steps below for one or several dealers if you have time. Make appointment with the dealer and work with the salesman you meet last time on the car again. But this time you try to lock down the price. Find the car, and ask what they can offer. Tell them what you want. Never let them make a price and you say yes! Always let you say a price lower and they say OK. Or else they definitely get more profit from you. If it is reach a point like “Sorry that is the lowest we can give”, normally at this moment, the price should be already lower than the factory invoice. If it is still higher than the factory invoice, then you should walk away and try other dealer. This one is too greedy for you. However, if it is already in the good price categories and with the discount you haven’t revealed yet, it can get into the exceptional price categories. It is up to you to tell them: “Sir/Mam, if you can lower the price for another 300 bucks I will agree.”  This is a magic number that normally works (I have tried, 100% works). After you make the deal, reveal your possible discount to them. And you can also ask if they can get a full season floor mat for you (100 bucks!). You know, just ask for some good stuff other than price drop. But you need to know what you don’t have in the car package or you just feel the others do you a favor actually not.

At the moment, they may say your discount only works for last years model blah blah. Calm down. The brand discount or cashback is from the brand not the dealership. So it is good for you and won’t harm them at all. If you feel you are legal to enjoy the incentives but the dealer says you are not, walk away and choose another one. If you feel doubt about whether the discount can apply to you. That is OK. Go back home and directly call the brand financial service, ask whether the deals works for you or not. You can even record the talk as evidence or ask the financial service send you email confirmation. Know what you are doing is important.

Now you should get what you want for the raw car price. It is time to look for the maintenance package. Depends on what you feel about a new vehicle. Normally it comes with complementary maintenance for  free at the first 1-2 years at any its dealership. However, dealer may also try to sale you with prepaid maintenance package. If you want to get the maintenance package. You should quote several different dealerships for that. The question is:

a. How much it is for the prepaid maintenance package (need you give the year/mileage number. Normally the year is 5 year, the mileage can vary a lot. Depends on how many miles you drive, you can choose the package).

b. Does the price include tax already?

c. Does it a global maintenance which means any the brand dealership should be able to do it? Or it is just your dealership only (the dealership specific ones may be cheaper, but may not have the benefits like you have from the brand).

As I said before, if you get the price too low on the car, the financial service guy may lure you to purchase the maintenance package or other protections to get back to the battle. Don’t listen to them on any other bullshit. The maintenance package is even not necessary if you are a DIY person. The first time I hear the maintenance package and the finance man tells me the original price is 4000 for the car if you pay once by once. That is just buff. If you do your work you will know it is not that price. Psychologically, it try to get their profit when you are so happy about get the car price down. It is a trap. Calm down and compare the price, if you want the prepaid maintenance package.

Next is the insurance. I just want to say my experience. I have to compare different insurance company. The website quote may just be as lure as usual. You may get a low price but when you try to pay, it will go to the DMV database to get more information and the price can increase. Finally I choose AAA. My old friend chooses it also. Although the contents of it is simple, may not be that fancy to cover a lot different types, but the price is the best I can compare with. And what is more, try to call them and make quote! I get several hundred less than the price on line. This situation only happens with AAA. And AAA insurance need to purchase with AAA membership, it is a good membership since you get discount at car rent and other stuff. And it may cover tow for certain mileage (5, 100, 200) and open the car if you lose key.

GET YOUR CAR

You need three things to pick up your car: insurance card, down payment check, and proof of residency. The last one is your rental lease or electric/gas bill.

So finally you made the decision about the car and get your cashier check for the down payment. Also remember to ask if the dealer accept credit card, normally they are happy to accept no more than 5000 payment from credit card. That is what I said about credit card. Now you sign the document, the financial service will handle the sign and normally the protection, maintenance package comes at this moment. If you don’t have time to do your own homework on these packages and the dealer you work with seems nice, ask them if you can change the down payment to add more before get the car. If you need to get the car right now, then you have to make your decision about the service you need to pay. You can ask some time to consider in the lobby and ask some friend. But if this is the case while you haven’t done any homework on this, I suggest that just say no. You will find a way to do them later.

Check the car. I think the major thing is the outside, if there is obvious problem. Check the car made date, better no more than 3 month from the date you pick it up. Also remember to check the mileage on it (normally a new car should be considered lower than 100 miles on it). Check the vin number, to see if it is the same as your document. You can also go over all the equipment in the car list you print out but I don’t feel it is necessary since the vin number is correct. In normal case, you should expect the electric guy explain how to use all the functions of the vehicles to you and answer all the questions. And you will get a full tank of gas paid by the dealer. This is not favor, at least at my dealership. If they don’t give that, ask them politely for it.

OK, I think that is all I have now to say. I hope I can have a good relationship with this SUV for the next 10 years in my life. For my old car, It will also help me, I should also spend some money on her for maintenance.