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Einkommensteuererklärung August 1, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Darlings, can any resident of the Bundesrepublik, past or present, local or foreign riff-raff, let me know if they’ve ever submitted their Einkommensteuererklärung – that lovely old tax declaration – quite as contumaciously late as I have this year? I don’t want to go into too much detail about my incompetence, silliness, laziness and fecklessness, but let’s say that it’s a very, very recent weight off my mind. Now I await the consequences, and my punishment, with bated breath.

I quite like the idea of going to prison in Germany. But worry I’m in for something lighter. A fine, say. Or, if I’m very unlucky, a live bollocking from one of those short-blond-hair-and-glasses women at the Finanzamt – they moved to a purpose-built, extra-depressing building in this area a couple of years ago – whose lips have been almost permanently pursed since 1977. I’m too lazy to be bothered to actually commit a proper crime, so think this is my best chance of a run-in with the law – a minor financial infraction. German magistrates don’t have quite as sexy regalia as their British counterparts – who does? – but they still wear quite a dashing red cape, and even, if you’re lucky, a silky red cap – I’m wondering whether I’ve dreamt this now – and it would be something of a thrill to have a German judge bark whatever German for, “Take him down!” is at me, with fraught relatives and, who knows, perhaps even the Russian, weeping frantically on the sidelines. I would shrug stoically and manfully, all the while sending them telepathic messages to bring me a file in a cake.

But you mustn’t think I’m a proper crim. I’m much too much of a wimp for that. And I wouldn’t know whom to target were I to go in for a proper life of crime. I majorly disapprove theft, although a nice mugger in Petrozavodsk did at least return the handbag full of documents to a drunken English muggee when I was there. Humane mugging. I’d feel silly loitering at East Berlin hotspots selling cut-price Ukrainian cigarettes concealed about as well as Cristo concealed the Reichstag in the strategically-positioned bin one inch away. There was some talk amongst a few of us Berlin bloggers, plus an eager accomplice in London, of setting up an NGO involving quite serious levels of embezzlement, but we never got the idea off the ground.

So I’m a low-level crim. Indeed, it really is only the declaration that’s gone in late. I’ve actually been paying my tax, as the tax-folk are happy to take your cash based on whatever you earned the previous year until you get round to delivering the current one to the aforementioned pursed-lipped ladies. So my chances of doing a stretch are probably small.

Which is a shame. When I lived in England, I was known to enunciate my greatest fear, when playing a what’s-your-greatest-fear-type game, as spending time in prison. This was because I imagined some grim, Victorian edifice with 40 to a cell and levels of violence that Guy Ritchie would balk at. (Mind you, Peter Wildeblood, imprisoned in England for homosexual offences in 1954, quite liked prison. And Alan Bennett has made a character find love and happiness in prison. And Theodore Dalrymple talks of folk finding something like happiness there too.) And what if the institutional colour was brown? And I had to work as a seamster? And I’d so obviously get fagged – or does this only happen in public schools? – by the scariest prisoner on site, not a feature visible for fat and tattoos.

But German prison holds no such fears. I’ve seen documentaries, you know. All nice and cushy. They’d probably have gay-awareness-raising classes. In English. And I’d learn German properly. And who’s in prison in Germany anyway, apart from Steffi Graf’s father? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I hope no-one’s been reading this piffle long enough to remember old posts. This blog is now going into recycling mode. Wildeblood’s been done before too – but I’m convinced German prisons are full of jaywalkers and people who refuse to accept the neue Rechtschreibung (spelling reform). I wouldn’t mind hanging out with people prepared to serve time for the sake of an ß.

And don’t you think I’ve overlooked the sexual angle for a second, because I flipping well haven’t.



1. daggi - August 1, 2006

Would that be the angle you look at an ” ß ” ?

2. BiB - August 1, 2006

I’ve always had a bit of a fetish for Latin-alphabet letters we don’t have in English. I can only get half as excited by Serbian, Belarusian and Ukrainian oddities in Cyrillic…

3. Wyndham - August 1, 2006

What’s Steffi Graff”s father in prison for? I know that Steffi isn’t much cop to look at but that seems a bit harsh.

4. BiB - August 1, 2006

Ah, Wynders, I was just about to turn the computer off in a huff, and your comment staves off the washing-up (and maybe even cooking, horrors!) for some precious further minutes.

Well, me being completely libellous, of course. He WAS in prison, or at least put on trial, for tax evasion. Yes, hiding Steffi’s money under the mattress. Honestly! I don’t know if the shame is what threw her into Agassi’s arms.

5. GreatSheElephant - August 1, 2006

I consider myself quite lucky that I wasn’t arrested for jaywalking. I even did it in front of a police car outside the cathedral. It was rather thrilling actually.

6. BiB - August 2, 2006

Did they sneer at you? Maybe they were feeling lenient…

7. Anonymous - August 2, 2006

i’m afraid you haven’t waited long enough for any real drama. on paper, you get 18 months to file that lovely steuererklärung. in thruth, however, you get somewhere between two and three years. in the end, the finanzamt just tallies up what they think you owe (e.g. the maximum possible) versus what you’ve already paid. if you’ve been paying something … (which most of us haven’t) … you get stuck with a bill of between €1,000-€3,000. if you haven’t been paying, they will desperately seek a way to ruin you.

pay much, pay often. that’s my advice. but remember: the cool thing about krautland is that if you file before they come after you, they are much, much readier to work with you on a payment plan.

how boring. maybe i should quit whatever it is that i do and become a steuerberater. oh god! i’m shutting the windows before i jump. ;)

sorry to disappoint. cute blond hanz the prison guard has bigger problems today. he’s being buggered by the canibal of rothenburg. ;)

8. BiB - August 2, 2006

Oh gosh, I hadn’t factored what’s-his-face Meiwes the cannibal into the equation. Maybe I’d better stay out of chokey after all.

But thank you, public-spirited anonymous poster, for the information. Well, from what you say, I might get off without being sent down (and then being murdered and eaten). My declaration is now in – typically, I got a reminder from them in the post the next day, and I’d hoped to beat them to that stage – and I’m paid up till September, but I can’t believe I’ll get off scot-free. Maybe a signed photograph of one of the Finanzamt hags which I’ll be forced to carry around in my wallet – no problem. I lose my wallet about once a week anyway – until I reform my ways?

God, I need to reform my ways.

Thanks again for the info…

9. chendaberry - August 2, 2006

Bib, did you do it all by yourself? Without a Steuerberater? If you did, I’m frankly gobsmacked!

10. daggi - August 2, 2006

Paying tax. In advance? 3,000 € a year? I’ve been living from that much money p.a. since I’ve been in Berlin. Oh dear. I hadn’t thought about all this when I got one of those Steuernummern. But presumably you do actually have to *earn* some money in order to have to pay, don’t you? Surely? Please reassure me on this one. My “religious status” hasn’t been cleared up yet anyway.

11. BiB - August 2, 2006

Chen, I do do it by myself, which is perhaps an error, as maybe the Steuerberater would save me more than he costs. And the money you pay for him/her is deductible anyway. But it was fear of having to speak German when I first started doing my taxes here that made me do it alone, with help from the Russian, of course. But actually, it’s pretty straightforward, but still such a grey task that I had to put it off till July.

Daggi, fear not, the first 8000 euros or thereabouts are tax free. If you do want the fun of doing a declaration, you could literally get whatever the main form is, fill in your name, tax number and Gewinn and not bother with any other boxes and then wait for the nice letter from the tax people a few weeks later telling you you owe them precisely nothing.

12. Ed Ward - August 2, 2006

I used to get fan letters from imprisoned Americans and Brits when I had a radio show here, and I do know that when I first came here there was a notorious black American prisoner in Moabit Prison (just up the road from where I was living at the time) who was a Vietnam vet who thought he was the next Jimi Hendrix and bothered a local promoter with his tapes. When the guy turned him down, the guitarist went to his office and beat the crap out of him. Reason I heard about him at all, in fact, was that everyone was so very relieved he was off the streets and out of the expat bars.

13. BiB - August 2, 2006

Christ, Ed, I hope none of these fans ever came and tracked you down. What was the typical profile of the expat crim? Were there any financial scoundrels like me, serving years for the sake of a few hundred euros? Or was it all guitarist killers?

14. BiB - August 3, 2006

Ed, you softie. I bet you had them weeping in their cells.

15. Ed Ward - August 3, 2006

Well, you know, I never felt real obligated to chase them down. I did, however, dedicate “Christmas In Jail” to them on my Christmas show.

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