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Tax haven June 1, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I’m running away from my tax declaration. Those of you living beyond the borders of our glorious federal republic will be unaware that May 31st is tax day but I’ve been here long enough to know that no-one gives a toss if you submit the bastard an oodle late.

Still, my life has taken on an air of respectable perfection of late. Which probably explains why I’ve been unable to blog, because, inevitably, perfection goes hand in hand with clanking boredom. If I’m not busy not smoking, I’m rushed off my feet not drinking. Then there’s the odd press-up to do to hone my virtuousness. I might lift a dumbbell for three seconds once a week and that brings on another time-consuming session of halo-polishing. And, finally, there are the sit-ups. About twice a week, I raise my blubbery torso approximately one degree off the floor and consider my sports regime tended to, worrying the whole while, as I lie panting on the bathroom floor, that the pointy light-bulb in the lamp above me will come free of its moorings and hurtle downwards, piercing my untoned belly in the process.

So the perfection made me think I’d better get other areas of my life in order. Naturally none of this rubs off on how the Russian and I interact. We can both pursue our paths to perfection with admirable individuality. I’m busy being perfect on my path so shining any Peruvian revolutionary would be proud of it. The Russian busies himself shuffling along his less lustrous version. He is more of a meddler than I am and occasionally strays on to my perfection-path, shielding his eyes from the dazzle of my virtue, to try to tell me how to tweak my life-choices. But I stand my ground.

“Maybe, for the first time ever, I should do my tax declaration on time,” I said on some perfect day in May. Between you and me, and I know it’s sacrilege to waste an opportunity for a bit of a moan, doing your tax here couldn’t be easier. Unless by easier we mean not doing it at all, which has its attractions. But I have an inner Calvinist streak which ordains that life’s unpleasanter duties should, by rights, be borne with forbearance, stoicism and a spirit of embracing that which brings suffering.

But, darlings, I’ve only read the first chapter of my self-help book. I thought giving up drinking and smoking would flick the magic perfection-switch and I’d be handing out the hymn books in the local church within a week. I’d be nicer to the Russian. I’d make jam for the neighbours. And tax declarations would get done on time.

Not a bit of it.

I perfectly undertook the first pre-steps of my tax declaration. “It’s all just so easy when your life’s perfect,” I said to myself as I was inoculating deprived children against cholera and giving their mothers a heartfelt lecture on the benefits of breastfeeding. I composed some poetry about the joy of doing one’s taxly duty by the state. I squeezed in one final pre-tax round of meals-on-wheels and finally got down to the paperwork.

Being perfect dictates that one organise official papers into orderly piles. Oh gosh. But what must these receipts be from? Oh god, how did I get a photocopy of that? I must have taken to photocopying in my sleep. Jesus, and how did those UK stamps get in there? And that-person-whom-I-haven’t-seen-for-two-years’s visiting card? Fucking hell. There’s a five pound note!

The papers spread with the speed which only inanimate objects can. Order disappeared. I had to start locking the door so the Russian couldn’t come in and try to force his version of perfection on me once more.

And I had a moment of weakness. Even we perfect folk have those. I took a swig from a bottle of bleach and booked a flight to Italy. You’ll probably never hear from me again.



1. ThePenguin - June 1, 2008

I do indeed live beyond the borders of your glorious federal republic, but your post reminds me I must write my annual letter to the FInanzamt saying “will November do?”

2. Mr D - June 1, 2008

Was I supposed to receive German tax stuff, too? Well, that hasn’t happened.

I thought I had done recently, but it turned out to be pension-related, and I’ve got a few more months to tell them everything I’ve done between 1988 (when I turned 17) and April last year.

Enjoy Italy!

3. annie - June 1, 2008

dear lord. That sounds like my worst nightmare. It’s almost worth going on contract somewhere & let someone else take care of your tax. Like the marvellously efficient London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Except for when they pay you the wrong salary for your first year of employment. See if we were gigolos and courtesans we could just stick the cash in a biscuit tin under the bed and life would be simpler all round.

4. ThePenguin - June 1, 2008

Mr. D, you don’t “receive” tax stuff, it is your citizenly duty to obtain the forms yourself.

If you’re employed (“angestellt”) and aren’t doing any other funny stuff like reclaiming VAT on three-way intra-EU trading, you’re not required to fill out a tax declaration, though you can if you want to, there might be something or other you can claim (e.g. wear and tear on your pen, but only to the proportion which it occurred during the course of your work).

5. Mr D - June 1, 2008

Pengers: After my initial panic (“I was supposed to collect forms?”), I’ve now let out a big sigh! I haven’t even done any other work towards a tax-free monthly “€100 job”, as it’s called; the PH work is the only stuff I’ve done. Well, if we don’t count the unpaid, non-PH-related nonsense from my boss. But that’s been taxing in itself!

6. Sylvia - June 1, 2008

Tax return hell? Why – take the easy way out – become a housewife and slave for no money forever more! Seriously, a call to the tax office to tell them I was no longer working and had become a full time housewife did it for me, haven’t had a tax return in years…..
Where are you going to in Italy?

7. Marsha Klein - June 1, 2008

See? You are a proper grown-up. You do tax returns and everything.

Have a lovely time in Italy. Your description of your brother and his reluctantly-holidaying family was very funny. Family holidays – you can’t beat them for laughs, but, generally, only when the family is somebody else’s.

8. BiB - June 11, 2008

Marsha, not yet I don’t. But I will, I will. But the pile of papers has disappeared, so maybe I won’t, until they come to take me away. Don’t feel very grown up at all. Oj vej!

Sylvia, it was Puglia and then a brief stop in Milan. And, yes, I’d love to be a housewife, as long as I didn’t have to do any of the housewifely stuff. Mind you, I’ll have you know, on the grown-up front, I even worked when I was on hols. See what a workaholic I am!

Mr D, what’s PH? I’m being dim. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with a real job in Germany but guess that you must be taxed at source. Though maybe you do get the privilege of doing a declaration too, just for the hell of it.

Pengers, do you mean I’m meant to actually warn them I won’t be declaring till November, rather than only declaring in November? Although I do vaguely plan to aim to think about getting it in soonish. Then, when the bill comes, I will die. Am I then exempted, or will they start pursuing relatives for cash?

Annie, the odd thing is that they almost never seem to want any majorly taxing corroborating paperwork. So I might as well be getting cash in hand and sticking it under the mattress – don’t think I’d have a princess-and-the-pea moment – but it’s the dutiful-citizen thing. How could I let the German tax authorities down?

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