Wes discovered earlier this year that, although our income comes from the US, we must still file income taxes here in Canada as well as in the US. That took us to a highly recommended tax preparer name Ericka. She filled out our taxes for 2004 and 2005, and we sent them off happily . . . well, as happily as we could, considering we were filing taxes. It was actually a relief to know that we were legal once again - we didn't owe the government anything and we had filed the papers to prove it.
One thing that Ericka mentioned to us during our tax session was that we were eligible for the Canadian children's tax benefit that is similar to the Earned Income Credit in the US. In Canada, it's usually the mother who files for this benefit, and to get the benefit, the mother must also file her own income taxes . . . even if she has earned no money in ANY country! So Ericka filled in my own little form, told me which form to fill out online, and how to send it all in. Which I did. But there was one little snafu . . .
There's the little matter of a social insurance number (aka social security number in the US). Wes has one. He was invited into Canada to work in a religious organization. I am not eligible to get one. I was not invited; I just came with him. To file taxes and get the child benefits, though, I had to have one. Canada says I can't have one. But the child benefit people say to fill out a different form, and we should still get that benefit. So I fill out the other form and send it in. I wait a couple of weeks. The Canada Revenue Agency calls one day, and the lady says, "Mrs. Hutchens, we don't have your social insurance number." I explain why they don't have it. She says you can't have the benefit without filing the taxes, and you can't file the taxes without the number. She says she will put my forms aside, and if I get a number, let them know and they'll process my taxes. You still with me?!
Fast forward to today. An envelope from the Child Tax Benefit people arrives in the mail. They cannot determine my benefit amount because they don't have my taxes! Argh! But! At the top of the page, I see a social insurance number! It is not my husband's number! Somehow I have one of my own! Wes called Ericka to make sure this was a for-real number, and it is. It's mine and I can use it. So this afternoon I called the tax office and said, "Hey, you set aside my tax forms till I got a number - I got one!" They look up my number, which I read to them off the form, and the lady says, "Yep, we have you there, but there's no tax information for you." I know that - that's why I'm calling. Long story short (or at least shortened a little bit), I faxed my number to them, requesting them to apply it to my tax return and process it. So I can get the tax benefit . . . that I couldn't get without a tax return . . . that I couldn't file because I didn't have a social insurance number . . . because - wait, we already covered that, didn't we?
So all you Americans out there - there is another government that is just as confusing and contradictory as the American government! When the tax lady apologized for the run-around, I said, "That's ok - I'm an American, so I'm used to it!" ;)