Feb. 19th, 2017

mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
It was a lovely day today: Spring is coming. The local high was around 58°F and the sunshine made a nice change from the gray and damp and wind of so many past weekends. I had been intending to again cut the crab-apple tree back from much crossing the property line and generally growing too enormous for me to manage at all so I took the opportunity of the newly clement weather. With the stepladder and the saw it was easy to bring the tree back into line and cut the thicker branches ready for burning once the pieces have dried out somewhat.

Managing landlords' gardens is always a challenge for me if they have more than grass. I may well have left the tree a little late in the season: it is probably already getting itself ready for new growth. I am often not sure what is or isn't a weed nor how large plants ought to be allowed to grow. So, my amateur tree surgery is largely guesswork but I think our current landlords are of the kind for whom it will suffice. At least since our latest move we have a much simpler garden than our previous.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
I have waited for long enough for forms to arrive so it is time to work on our US tax return. Today I have been gathering the relevant information: dates and amounts of payments of salary, interest, etc. As usual I took the exchange rate information from the Federal Reserve Board's G.5 releases and, goodness, Brexit has made a difference: for May 2016 I am using a rate of $1.4524 per pound sterling and for October I am using $1.2330: ouch. I suppose it will be good for exports. Of course, from a US tax point of view it is good if one's capital gains in the UK do not coincide with a rise in the pound's value so that fall will have been good for some people.

To make my tax filing easier I avoid owning equities and suchlike: I do not want to be trying to figure out how to properly report them as foreign trusts or whatever they become to the IRS. Fortunately the year 2016 was uneventful and looks to be one of my easiest yet as 2015 included both an interest refund from the IRS and a business trip to a conference in the US at NIST which meant that a fraction of my UK salary was thus earned on US soil and could not be excluded as foreign income. For this past year there are no new complications and I ought to be able to file a simpler version of last year's forms. Once my children have paying jobs I shall have to train them in all this.

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Mark T. B. Carroll

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