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.