Tuesday, 5 May 2015

If You Don't Like It, Leave

From Tiger Tribe
Contrary to what people may believe, there is no perfect place to teach English or live. Everyone has bad days and needs to complain once in a while. I live in Korea and am not married to a local. I've found that people who are married to Koreans feel like they're allowed to complain about Korea and people like me, who have fewer ties, are not. They can say anything and if you chide them, they'll tell you that they're stuck and can't leave because they married into the culture. If you complain about any one little thing, they'll tell you to leave.

I have created ties in Korea. I have a job I love, my daughter was born here and goes to school here. She's fluent in Korean. I have friends, I do volunteer work, and get involved in the community.

No normal person would tell a foreigner back home to leave. You wouldn't go into Chinatown and tell people if they don't like it, leave. The same thing holds true here. There is no utopia and sometimes it's better to stay with the devil you know. Everyone is allowed to have bad days and complain every once in a while.

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Friday, 1 May 2015

Top 5 Tax Tips for Self-Employed US Expats

The following post is from a guest blogger from Greenback Tax Services.

Self-employment can be tricky as a US expat. It’s difficult to know who the IRS actually considers self-employed and if you are classified as such, how will you be taxed? Expats often have slightly unique situations—such as working a full-time job and earning additional money ‘on the side’. So let’s take a closer look at the top 5 things you need to know if you are (or may be!) a self-employed American living overseas.

1. What is a self-employed individual? 
As a general rule, you are not treated as self-employed for US tax purposes if you are categorized as an employee. So this means that if you work for a foreign or US employer and are considered an employee, you are not self-employed and you do not need to pay self-employment tax. If you are self-employed, you must file a US tax return if your income exceeds $400 (yes, you read that right—only $400!).

2. What is self-employment tax? 
Essentially, self-employment tax is your Social Security and Medicare payments to the US. The current rate is 15.3% and you can pay these taxes at the time taxes are due or pay estimated quarterly payments throughout the year. Remember that if you are paying at the end of the tax year, you must pay any taxes owed by April 15th, (not the expat tax deadline of June 15th), as this is when penalties and interest begin to accrue.

3. Where do I make my Social Security payments? 
No matter how you earn your income, Social Security payments must always be paid to someone! You may actually be subjected to the dreaded dual taxation—meaning, you pay Social Security taxes to both the US and your host country.

To prevent this, the US has entered into agreements with 24 countries that determine which country you pay Social Security to—so it is important to know if your host country has such an agreement and t also check the fine print!

For example, the US-UK agreement says that if you’re self-employed and you only want to pay into the UK national insurance system, you actually have to volunteer or opt out of the US Social Security system. If you don’t do that, you’re still required to pay into both systems.

However, in general, if you’re self-employed and working overseas you’ll pay into the US Social Security system. If you work primarily for a foreign employer, you’ll most likely pay into the system of your country of residence.

4. What if I earn money on the side? 
As noted above, if you are a regular employee overseas, you will not be taxed as self-employed. But that doesn’t mean your additional earnings are tax-free! While additional income doesn’t automatically classify you self-employed in the eyes of the US, you will still need to be report it on your Form 1040. And as you may have guessed, it is taxable in the US!

5. Can I exclude my additional income from taxation? 
The good news here is that your additional income will be included in your foreign sourced income, which may be excluded from US tax liability. Using the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, you can exclude up to $100,800 from US taxes (in 2015). So as long as your total income doesn’t exceed the $100,800 threshold, you will not owe any taxes on the additional income you earn. Remember that in order to be eligible to use the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, you must qualify as a US expat by passing one of two residency tests: the Physical Presence test or the Bona Fide Residence test.

Any additional money earned in the US or from a US source is not ‘foreign earned’ and therefore cannot be excluded with the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

If you have any questions about your income, how to report it or what taxes you will be required to pay, we highly recommend that you speak to an expat tax professional.

Failure to pay US taxes can result in steep penalties and excessive interest!

This post was written by David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services. Greenback specializes in the preparation of US expat taxes for Americans living abroad. Greenback offers straightforward pricing, a simple, hassle-free process, and CPAs and IRS Enrolled Agents who have extensive experience in the field of expat tax preparation. 

For more information about Greenback Expat Tax Services or your US expat tax obligations, please contact us or visit www.greenbacktaxservices.com.

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Teachers Should Evaluate the Admin

From Advance at Brown
Teachers evaluate their students and in turn their students evaluate them. Yet admin also evaluates teachers, but teachers never evaluate them in return. Teachers may also be evaluated by their peers and do self-evaluations. Admin will say this is because they want to help teachers become better teachers. It seems unfair for admin to dish it out but not be able to take it.

Many teachers have a problem with student evals since their job often hinges upon them.  Even though students aren't customers, they are being treated like they are. Some teachers are so afraid of student evals that they don't want to tell their students their grades for fear that their students will retaliate and give them a lower mark if they get a low grade.

I really think that if the admin believes evaluating teachers will help them become teachers then they should ask the teachers to evaluate them: in order to help them become better admin.

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Giveaway Grammarly Premium Test Account

Yesterday's guest post about 3 reasons for learning English was written by Nickola Baron at Grammarly.

The people at Grammarly have sponsored a giveaway for a premium test account. There will be a raffle to choose the winner. The raffle will end at midnight GMT+9 on Thursday, May 7th. A winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, May 8th.

Click here to enter the giveaway.

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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A Feather in the Hat for English Teachers

The following post is from a guest blogger from Grammarly. They have sponsored a giveaway for a premium test account. There will be a raffle to choose the winner. The raffle will end at midnight GMT+9 on Thursday, May 7th. A winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, May 8th.

Have you heard students complaining that they will never use what they are learning in class? Regardless of the subject matter, it seems that the future engineers and pastry chefs of America think that they do not need a well-rounded education. Would students be better off restricting their studies to subjects directly related to their future careers? If you teach English, here are three reasons why your curriculum should be a part of every student’s plan of study.

What Would Human Resources Say? 
Often, professionals responsible for hiring evaluate grammar to narrow down the pool of applicants. If they have several candidates that seem equally qualified, they will eliminate the candidates who have glaring grammar mistakes in their cover letters or applications. In a Harvard Business Review article, Kyle Wiens states this about applicants who use bad grammar: “I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.” If you apply for a sales or operations position at one of his two companies, you will take a mandatory grammar test. If you fail, your application will be discarded.

Grammarly’s Research on Elance Profiles
Do you remember learning about indirect object pronouns and subordinate clauses? Did you take notes in English class? If so, you may earn more than your peers! In a recent poll, a writing software company named Grammarly discovered that good grammar significantly influences the likelihood that you will be hired, as well as how much you earn and how highly you are ranked on Elance. Elance is a staffing platform for online freelance work. Contractors are rated using a system of stars. Grammarly examined the profiles of about 450 professional freelancers working in various categories and found that the highest scorers also had the fewest errors in their profiles.

More Time for Lunch 
According to the article, “The Advantages of Good Grammar in the Workplace”, writing accurately is practical for a number of reasons. First, it saves time. If you communicate well, you will spend less time answering questions from your colleagues. You also avoid giving misleading information that could result in costly mistakes. People perceive you as caring and professional if you communicate well. This may translate to promotions and positive evaluations later in your career. The research speaks volumes about the importance of communication and writing. Students belong in English class so they can learn how to express themselves to others. Even after graduating from high school or university, they need to continue to develop their writing skills. Applicants for jobs or professionals in their careers should make it a regular practice to use an automated grammar checker on their emails, memos, reports, and other communication. Doing so will save you time and effort. It may also affect how much you earn and how people view you. With this information in mind, is it not a good time to thank your English teacher for introducing you to commas?

By Nikolas Baron ------------------------------------------------------//------------------------------------------------------------- Bio: Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in elementary school, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at Internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

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