Taxes

My interest in taxes is largely involuntary; I need to pay them, so I need to learn about them. On this page I describe the various kinds of taxes I have paid. If you like this page, you might also be interested in my immigration status page.

In April 2018, I created a private GitHub repository with details on my income and taxes, recording using SQL tables. It’s possible that I’ll make a website presenting the information with tables and graphs at some point, but it’s not a priority for me. For now, having the data in SQL tables makes it easy to manipulate and aggregate it programmatically.

United States federal government

I have been paying federal tax to the United States federal government for every calendar year since 2007, and filed tax returns for every year till 2014. For 2015 and 2016, I intend to file but have not yet done so as of January 3, 2016. Below, I describe some aspects of my tax situation starting 2007. A few notes:

  • In 2007, I used an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) as my identification for filing; since 2008 I used my Social Security Number, which I received in 2008. Also, since this was my first year filing US taxes, I was required to file the 1040NR rather than the 1040NR-EZ.
  • In the years 2007, 2008, and 2009, I had some scholarship income from the University of Chicago that was reported on Form 1042-S (in 2007, this was my only income, whereas in 2008 and 2009, it was only part of my income). Starting 2010, I had no such income and all my income from the University of Chicago was on a Form W-2.
  • In 2010, I made significant donations to charity, so I decided to itemize deductions rather than take the standard deduction. Thus, I filed the 1040NR instead of the 1040NR-EZ.
  • Until 2011, I was a non-resident for tax purposes because of the exemption for students in the Substantial Presence Test, hence was taxed only on my US income.
  • Due to a US-India tax treaty, I was able to take the standard deduction despite not being a US resident for tax purposes in those years where I opted to do so (2007-2009 and 2011).
  • Till 2009, I used a tax preparation software provided by the University of Chicago; since 2010, I have filed taxes on my own. In all years, I have filed paper taxes.
  • From 2012 onward, since I became a resident for tax purposes, my worldwide income became taxable. Hence, I had to report my India income as well. In 2012 and 2013, I did so using PFIC Form 8621; in 2014 I simply filed Schedule B.
  • Due to the significant changes in my tax filing situation in 2012, I requested a filing extention to October 15, which was granted.
  • Since 2012, I have been filing the FBAR form. In recent years I have filed the form online.
  • For 2014 I had some income through Form 1099-MISC, but I did not attach the forms since there was no withholding on that form (however, I did include that income in my income total).
  • In 2014, I paid estimated taxes through the year because my income in the first half of the year was not withheld at source (coming from Form 1099-MISC rather than Form W-2). This was primarily income from my work for MIRI. I initially mailed checks along with Form 1040-ES, but subsequently switched to using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).
  • I have held a full-time job with withholding since August 2014, and the withholding is adjusted so that I have approximately zero tax liability from my wage income alone at the end of an year. However, since I have some taxes on other income (specifically, interest income and capital gains), I continue to pay some estimated taxes using EFTPS, so that I do not have to pay penalties for unpaid taxes.
  • In 2017, I had significant income from the sale of Bitcoin purchased in 2014. I had smaller amounts of income from Bitcoin and Ethereum sales in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
  • In a few years, the IRS and I have disagreed on how much I owe it in taxes, though the IRS has always taken a view more favorable to me, and I have deferred to its superior judgment. In one year the discrepancy amounted to a dollar, in another, it amounted to somewhere between 100 and 200 dollars.
Year Main tax form filed Extra stuff filed
2007 1040NR 1042-S, Schedule A, Schedule OI, 8843, scholarship statement
2008 1040NR-EZ 1042-S, W-2, Schedule OI, 8843, scholarship statement
2009 1040NR-EZ 1042-S, W-2, Schedule OI, 8843, scholarship statement
2010 1040NR W-2, Schedule A, Schedule OI, 8843
2011 1040NR-EZ W-2, Schedule OI, 8843
2012 1040 W-2, Schedule B, PFIC 8621
2013 1040 W-2, Schedule B, PFIC 8621, 8938
2014 1040 W-2 (multiple), Schedules B, C, and SE, 6251
2015 1040 W-2, Schedule B, 6251
2016 1040 W-2, Schedule B, 6251
2017 1040 W-2, Schedules B and D, 8949, 6251
2018 1040 W-2, Schedules 1, 2, 5, B, and D, 8949, 6251
2019 1040 W-2, Schedules 2, 3, A, B, and D, 8949, 6251

Wikipedia pages I created as a result of learning about US federal taxes:

I also paid Issa Rice to create, helped him create, and subsequently edited the Wikipedia page on Form 1040. I have also funded the creation of pages on other tax forms: Form W-2, Form W-4, Form W-9, Form 1042, Form 1099, Form 1099-MISC, and Form 1099-K.

Illinois government

I have filed the IL-1040 from the tax year 2007 to the tax year 2014.

A few notes:

  • For 2007 and 2008, I filed on paper. Since 2009, I have been filing electronically. I was unable to file electronically the first time, and the second time I could not file electronically because I switched from the ITIN to the SSN.
  • For 2007, my initial mailing of the tax return appeared to have been lost by the post office (I had requested the package to be tracked, and the post office claimed that it was stuck at a location where it shouldn’t ordinarily be stuck). I filed a duplicate return, and my tax payment was deducted twice. However, I was subsequently refunded one of my payments with 2% interest, so it worked out in the end.
  • For 2014, the only reason I filed the form was that a University of Chicago tax payment intended for 2013 was delayed to 2014. Since I had difficulty comprehending the rules governing taxation in cases where you are in two different US states in the same tax year, I reported my entire income for 2014 as Illinois income, therefore probably overpaying by a few hundred dollars relative to what I could do with more careful tax optimization.

California government

I have filed California taxes online in 2014, 2015, and 2016. For 2014, I did not need to pay estimated taxes despite taxes not being withheld in the first half of the year, because it was my first year in the state and no estimated taxes need be paid by people who have not paid taxes in the state the previous year. For 2015 and 2016, my withholding approximately matches my tax obligation, and is in fact a little more, so again, no estimated taxes need be paid.

For 2014, I reported and paid taxes on my entire income in the state of California, even though part of the income was sourceable to Illinois (since it was a delayed University of Chicago payment).

Basic information