Thursday, July 07, 2005

How’s THIS for bureaucracy:

Some people don’t get high blood pressure when thinking about tax returns, but I certainly do. Maybe its because I dwell in Africa, but this is what I have been dealing with over the last two months:

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is our tax bureau. I hate them so much, it even frightens me. Every year, one needs to submit a tax form. Since I have been employed, I have submitted my form – late, but nevertheless, I thought I was ahead of them. Back when I was a full-time irresponsible ‘tax-what-tax?’ student, my mother decided she’d be doing a favour by strolling into the tax office in Cape Town and registering me as a taxpayer. Will nilly. Little did I know that SARS thinks I’ve been employed since 2000, not 2003.

I have been receiving threatening letters from them, something along the lines of “we will arrest you unless you take action now” because they think I have been tax evading for three years. I ignored them to begin with because I thought they were talking cr@p- it is SARS afterall.

Then I couldn’t get my retrenchment package. So in a frenzy, I submitted the outstanding forms – I didn’t even post them, I arrived at SARS head office in downtown Johannesburg and put them into an ‘urgent pile.’ It wasn’t that simple, of course, because the fuckers don’t know what they are doing, of course, and I had to stand in five queues before they could tell me where to put these forms. One queue I had to stand in was so I could stand in another queue. My form had a sworn oath in it, stamped by a judge, to say that I was, in fact, a student and not a tax evader. They promised me it would take between 8 to 21 days to process. (In SARS language-this means “it will take the rest of your life to process.”)

Then they lost them. Of course.

So I had to resubmit. Still, nothing. I phoned this faceless fuck up of a place, to ask them what the fuck I should do to get these forms processed. Of course, I did this everyday for two months, giving myself an ulcer in the process. Nobody helped me, nobody cared – half of them spoke English, and this so-called ‘Help Centre’ was based in Durban and Cape Town, not in Joburg where the fucking head office is.

During this time, I was STILL getting letters and subpoenas saying that I’m going to jail unless I submit my forms. (F$%&**!)

In the meantime, my retrenched colleagues from my old company were buying cars and new wardrobes with their funds. (“Where’s your fund, Laurian?”)
So I filed a complaint. In fact, I filed two.

And yesterday, they finally processed my “lost” forms, which they miraculously found – possibly in the bin or something - and two months later I have access to my retrenchment fund.

It doesn't end. Oh no, that would be too easy. Fr this year's tax return, one of my old companies didn't register me as an employee. Meaning they were trying to zyphe the taxman. Not my fault, but I'm one IRP-5 form short of an asylum.

So you will understand then: I want to be a caveman.


janie q said...

let me know where your cave is cuz i want to come and stay for a bit too

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks Janie, I'm willing to cave just about anywhere right now - anywhere besides Beirut and Iraq really.

I'll hunt for my own food, wear my own loincloth and never, ever ever have to deal with the yax bureau ever again! :)

Paperslut said...

Lol... thankfully, I'm back to being a student. And anyways, once i start having to repay my student loan, there wont be any money left to pay taxes.

Yes, life is sweet.

Peas on Toast said...

Nice loophole Wonderwall.

Now I'm definitely going to study my honours.

If it means I can live in a cave and wallow in textbooks. Sounds pretty great to me.

Ed Abbey said...

Here in America we have a saying that there are only two things absolutely certain in this world, death and taxes. In your case, the former almost sounds as appealing as the latter.

Peas on Toast said...

Hey Ed!
How have you been dear?
Nice to hear from you again - yes, death is almost better than taxes.

Because taxes are a prison sentence as far as I'm concerned.

Blog ho said...

cavemen are dirty. and they smell. but they have rollicking sex. I'd know, i'm 1/2 caveman.

Nettie said...

Yax beaureau. I love it. Apparently they're the same the world over.

Peas on Toast said...

Ho - Women cavemen aren't smelly. Luckily where I cave, there's a stream, so that I can wash my armpits once in a while..:)

Half caveman eh? You're one hot stud Ho ;)

Nettie - If the tax system is the same across the globe, I don't know why there aren't more cavemen.

Third World Ant said...

Well, seeing as I am going to be consulting at SARS for the next few months, I'll forgive you for thinking I'm the enemy. Not that I've ever submitted a tax form in my life - I give the forms to my Dad's financial dood to sort out (does he? I wonder?) The coppers haven't come to arrest me yet, so till then, I'm not going to worry about a damn thing...

Ed Abbey said...

Fine, thanks for asking. Just hanging out in the background reading but not saying much.