# The unseen taxes on post-docs

It is tax season in most countries. As most law abiding citizens post-docs pay taxes on their wages. However, there are many unseen taxes in a post-docs life. Most of them go undocumented.

## The Health tax

Most academic institutes provide health coverage for post-doc positions (although not guaranteed). But do not be fooled, even with coverage you do pay extra if not monetary, with your health. Mobility often makes it difficult to get reimbursed after leaving the country and legal disputes regarding medical bills are all but impossible.

Short term (international) contracts often result in the fact that no meaningful relationship with a family doctor can be established. The lack of familiar setting is a hurdle when looking for medical advice, especially concerning mental health issues. Furthermore, it often leaves you with a fragmented medical history which negatively influences diagnosis.

Finally, given the short term nature of most contracts it is hard to convince institutes and PIs to invest in policies which only pay of in the long term. For example, simple interventions such as ergonomic office chairs, standing desks which have huge short and long term benefits are often overlooked. These requests are often ignored as post-docs aren’t around long enough to benefit from it (at this location) or fight for it.

## The Exchange Rate tax

Although most post-docs are not motivated by money, it might be prudent to consider the exchange rate between where you earn your wages and where you hope to end up. For example, the exchange rate of the dollar to the euro varied up to 20% percent points over the last 5 years. In short, when moving between countries you lose a substantial amount of earning potential on your savings not necessarily offset by higher wages in the country of origin. Obviously, if you are lucky this might also works in your favour.

## The Career tax

It is often cited that scientists who worked abroad have a broader network and more international collaborators, and higher impact work. However, this mobility comes at a price. What you gain in international contacts you often lose in terms of local (political) influence. Leaving a country means you leave the local watercooler talk and employability that comes with it. Although science pretends to be unbiased, supposedly hiring the best candidate, it often hires the most available one (known quantity). If you are not at the watercooler, you are not a known quantity nor available. Unless you return within a short time frame (1-2 years) consider your chances of being employed or appointed a permanent position to diminish.

## Compounding factors

All these taxes are compounded by additional factors and multiply their severity (cost). I’ve written this from my personal perspective, but I can imagine that having a family, being disabled or suffering from a (chronic) illness will increase the Administration tax and all others substantially. As a cis-gender white male I’m not going to write extensively about this, due to a lack of personal experience. However, looking at the racial/gender dynamics in the US I often wondered how people manage their anxiety with respect to these issues. So there is a serious Racial / Gender tax as well.