During our 39 years in Taiwan, most of our income came from overseas. We were missionaries of the Reformed Church in America, which paid our salary directly into our bank account in $US. Anything we earned from Taiwan sources was paid in $NT and reported to the National Tax Bureau in either Kaohsiung or Tainan, depending on where we resided. Every year I’d go to the tax office with forms in hand testifying to both American Taiwan incomes. It usually took two visits, more if I’d forgotten something. The staff at the tax office would compute what I owed and present me with a bill. Sometimes this took several daily visits to an ATM to assemble the amount, after which I’d visit a bank and pay what I owed and then take a receipt back to the tax office to file.
We left Taiwan at the end of July in 2018 and officially retired 2 months later. It was a crazy year on the income side. Our “tax guy” got us a 6-month deferment because of the greater complexity of the return. We paid in October. The amount came as a surprise. This current year has been crazy on the outgo side. Home ownership involves a lot of things we’d not imagined. Car expenses are higher than they were in Taiwan, and the car we use now is just about as beaten up as the one we used for 21 years in Taiwan. Phone and cable charges jumped to “normal” after the great first year rates we’d negotiated upon arrival in 2018.
I think and write about late in November because we are drawing up a loose budget for next year. I had to put all sorts of things on it that I’d never really bothered with when we were in Taiwan. State income taxes, for instance. American-size health insurance premiums, for another instance.
In the deepest part of my heart, I know that leaving Taiwan upon retirement was the right thing to do. Without our regular jobs there, had we become volunteers or whatever, we’d just be in the way of people trying to do their jobs. And even with the small things we might have done as volunteers, we wouldn’t have built much of a life. Our opportunities here are so much more filled with potential. Yes, this is the right place.
But, it was so much simpler there.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.