Thursday, November 19, 2009

Immigrant Woes by Margaret Ullrich

We just got back from a walk. Bumped into a few people. Folks are still asking where Bobo is and if we'll get another dog. We've lived in our present home for 21 years and have many friends. But, I didn't grow up here.

It ain't easy being an immigrant kid.
My parents always said they could deport me if I got out of line. I was alway an alien while I lived in America. Pop wouldn't pay the 10 bucks to have me naturalized when he and Ma became American citizens. 

Americans don't have much sympathy for people who had been born in other countries living in America. Every year I had to send in a green alien registration card.  If I didn't, I could be fined, jailed or deported. 

Every year my classmates teased me about being a foreigner. 
Every year I  knew I faced a double glass ceiling: being a female and being a foreign born person.  
Every year I wished we had never immigrated to America.

My parents knew how I was treated by some classmates and their parents.
Maybe Pop didn't pay the 10 bucks so I could more easily return to Malta.

Now that we're sorting out Ma's estate, I'm learning it ain't any easier being an immigrant adult.

My brother had sent me a beneficiary claim form and form W-9 (for U. S. residents). The same forms he and our sister had signed.

I had to phone a 1-866 number to get the foreign beneficiary claim form: Form W-8 (as explained on page 2 of the W-9 form). I also had to give her the correct spelling of my last name - they'd left out a letter.

I explained that I moved to Canada in 1972 and that, since I am a Canadian citizen, I need the W-8 form. I gave her the correct spelling of my last name, along with my address and phone number. For security purposes she asked me Ma's date of birth. Once I told her the date, she expressed sympathy and said she'll pass on the information.

They called back and said that I'll get a PDF of the beneficiary claim form: Form W-8 through e mail.

Instead she sent me a website address that had a few W-8 forms. I picked one, then
e mailed and asked if I had the right form for my situation.

That was the end of her helpfulness.

She said that she had, "provided the website in hopes that it would lead you to the correct form. Accessing the IRS website may provide more answers for what is correct for your situation. American Equity will require a W-8 to process the claim, but we cannot determine which is correct for you."

If I were in America it seems one form fits all situations. As to picking the right form for a foreigner, well, "that was one of the questions that should be directed to your tax advisor. It looks like the forms were changed as of April 2009."

I don't think I'll move again.

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