Friday, December 11, 2009

The Annoyances of Being a Nomad

Generally I consider myself as a "glass half-full" sort of person. Someone who really is willing to put up with a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of crap. Did I mention that my husband lost his debit card by leaving it in an ATM machine AGAIN last week? So yeah. I am patient. And if anyone asks about my little stint as the wife of a naval officer I generally respond with an impassioned speech about how awesome it is. The pay is good. I get to travel. They move all my stuff for me. If Nick leaves I get to have time to myself, act independently, do whatever I want. So it's like a the Hannah Montana version of single vs. married. But in all seriousness, there are some major annoyances. This is one.

Two years ago we bought our car shortly before Christmas, so now we have moved to Charleston and we get our invoice from the state of Washington for the renewal of our tags. Here is where things get confusing. You might want to get a sheet of paper to start a flow chart. Nick, being a member of the military gets to choose his state of residency AND his license doesn't expire. So he can legally drive around with his Washington license as long as he likes. BUT since somehow his paperwork got lost or was never filed, for tax purposes he is still listed as a resident of Kansas. Now, rumor has it that we can keep our car registered in Washington based on Nick's status. But I am not sure how one goes about doing that when we no longer have a Washington address. Also, since I cannot legally keep my Washington driver's license and since we have both our names on the title they ask for both our license numbers and I feel a little weird and confused about listing my new South Carolina license number on the tag renewal for Washington. So I am all like let's just get South Carolina tags cause, I don't know, that just seems like the right thing to do. We live here now, no jerk cop is going to pick on us for having out of state plates, AND since our mail had to be forwarded from Washington, to California, to South Carolina we didn't get this invoice until like two weeks before the tags expired so time was of the essence.

So I start the process of getting this all taken care of. I go online and find a form that exempts Nick from property tax. Super. Then Nick comes home all jazzed about this new act Obama just passed, which to the best of my understanding states, if Nick is a "resident" of Washington then I can be too cause, hypothetically I am only moving around to be with him. Get it? Ok. It's a federal act, so basically a general law that states are left to enact however they see fit. So I go online and find an information letter from the Dept of Revenue of South Carolina that states as a part of this act South Carolina says that any property owned by spouse or jointly owned with service member will be given the same treatment as if owned by the service member. So that says to me I should be exempt from property tax as well. Cool. Then I note the a caption at the bottom of the image of the document stating that South Carolina hasn't posted this on their official website yet. Awesome, just awesome. AND the document image is good enough for me to clearly read it on the screen but not good enough to print out. So now I have to go down to the treasurer's office with no documentation. (And, by the way, this is like day two of this whole ordeal cause I went to the DMV only to be told that I had to pay property taxes at the treasurer's office which is all the way across downtown.)

So we get our exemption form all signed and head to the treasurer's office, who tells us we actually need to go to the auditor's office down the hall and THEN come back. So we head there. We confuse the girl behind the desk with this mystical form with a notary style stamp on it from the legal office on base and then I mention this new act. And I don't sound like an idiot. I mention that I found a recent document, from their department, it wasn't posted to a website, part a new federal act, mentioned the act by name, yada yada and these office trolls look at me as if I have just told them that I can talk to fish and I have decided to start worshipping kitchen appliances as gods. The gal helping us just explains she doesn't know anything about it but she will call her supervisor only in time for her cubicle neighbor to speak up and tell her to get off the phone and assure me that I am wrong. She thinks there is an act that protects me from property tax when he is deployed. That must be what I am thinking of. I assure her that this was a very new act passed within the past month. She, again, snidely assures me that I am wrong. At this point I am fuming. I had wanted to bring some paperwork with me but I wasn't aware that it was totally my job to inform them on what was new at the state department of revenue. I can tell we are getting no where so we paid our $90 dollars and then go all the way back to the DMV to pay another $40 to get our plates. The DMV? Shockingly friendly and efficient. The tax offices? Can totally eat it. And I mean it. Makes me really motivated to figure out this whole new act and move my "residency" back to Washington so I can remain a "non-resident" here. Seriously couldn't give a rat's ass about my $90, I just hate being treated like an idiot riding on the coat tails of my husband.

The real fun of all this is I have yet to find some major concrete source of information on all of this. I am certain it is written down in some policy book somewhere. But I don't know where that is AND I am positive it is written in some crazy legal jargon that I could only manage to choke down with a bottle of tequila but then I wouldn't remember any of it so what good would that do? Thankfully, I have a wonderful lawyer friend who has helped me through some of more confusing points. (I love you, Stephanie, please be patient with me.) As well as a veritable barrage of really awesome and equally snarky wives who have had to deal with even more crap by virtue of being around longer.

So in case you are keeping score at home. Nick pays taxes to Kansas, has a Washington license, physically lives with me in South Carolina where I am a resident and have a driver's license. We have one car plated in South Carolina, one plated in Washington, insurance for South Carolina and somehow still receive a friggin' tax booklet from Connecticut every year. Freaks us out every time. We haven't lived there for like 3 years! We don't owe them any money. Why do we still get booklets! Damnit! Obnoxious, right?

Now hopefully I haven't accidentally admitted to some tax fraud or other infraction I was totally unaware of on the Internet. If I don't post next week, just assume that I have and that I am imprisoned somewhere.

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