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Tax apple August 6, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I now await my tax bill with bated breath. I reckon I’ve been underpaying by some millions so fully expect to starve to death the day the bill plops onto the doormat.

Which all takes away from the feeling of heroism I richly deserve at having done the bastard in the first place. The Russian’s only utterance to me since the beginning of the year, bar, perhaps, the odd, “You look pregnant,” has been, “Tyex dyeklaration.” Which means, of course, that to do the tax declaration would have been giving into one of his requests and, ergo, a massive moral defeat.

“Hmm, this is very unsatisfactory,” I’m almost bound to have thought to myself at some point as I mulled over how not to do my duty by the state. “How to spread the gloom?”

I wrote the Russian a text message in case he was having a nice day somewhere without me. “Darling, I’ve decided you should do my tax declaration. After all I’ve done for you.”

“You khev done naasink for me,” he answered from the next room.

“What?” I texted back. Perhaps even in capitals. “If it wasn’t for me, you still wouldn’t know what an avocado was…” I write, relieved to have remembered yet another example of my beneficent altruism. “I introduced you to MacDonald’s, the internet, credit card debt!”

Duly chastened, he agreed. Though it would require my help. I’d have to provide the figures, after all. I fought him off as long as I could. “No, I’m too busy,” I’d say, as he appeared on the threshold of ‘my’ room sporting books on tax and an earnest look.

“Aha, Slaminsky!,” the Russian exclaimed, catching me having a sneaky look, in a short break from my frantically busy professional life, at Slaminsky. He reappeared as quick as a flash with the least interesting books ever written, the earnest look, and an insistence that I switch on my antediluvian laptop.

We co-approached the task differently. The least interesting book ever written gave tips on how to fill in each point on the least interesting form ever written. The Russian pored over each one, dignifying them with a respect I thought they were in no position to have earned. German compound words had me flailing for alcohol – the best part of alcoholism is the drinking – whereas the Russian would furrow his brow, as I last did when trying to read philosophical texts at university, and try to understand. “Darling, I didn’t fill in that box last year,” I’d say jollily, reminded helpfully by the computer programme. “We can probably skip to the next one.”

The Russian took a bite from a therapeutic apple. I made a grab for it too, but the Russian brushed my hand away from the forbidden fruit. I always tend to think I have a spousely right to anything belonging to the Russian, be it clothes or food. Whereas he is a much more modern type, thinking what’s his is his and what’s mine is mine. I remind him that I’m the one that grew up in the wicked West whereas his formative years were spent in a laboratory of social brotherhood, but he is not for turning. But I had to insist. These were no ordinary times. We were filling in a tax declaration. We were up against it. Us against the state. Spending unprecious free time doing something horrible to help the state reinforce my poverty. This was no time for not sharing the tax apple. We exchanged a solemn look, understanding the gravity of the situation. The Russian smiled reluctantly. And gave me the tax apple. I slobbered all over it. We had a manly hug.

Anyway, the bastard’s in. Anyone know what it’s like in debtors’ prison?



1. annie - August 6, 2008

Aw, I feel strangely proud to have been involved in one of your domestics.

In Barcelona there was this lovely company that can find out if you are owed or owing BEFORE you submit your details, and they only charge a fee if you get a rebate. Don’t they have something similar there (or is your tyex dyeklaration not optional)?

2. BiB - August 6, 2008

No, not optional, unfortunately. Now just awaiting the demand for payment. (The clever programme – you can do the whole declaration online, though you still have to deliver the papery bits separately – even tells you how much you can expect to pay, so I’m vaguely psychically prepared, though it’s only an estimate.)

Yes, it was very funny hearing him say, “Aha, Slaminsky,” which means he could recognise your blog at a couple of paces. Mind you, he’s met you ‘n all so your blog is bound to have made more of an impression.

3. narrowback - August 7, 2008

I think that the set-up here for self employed folks is that you have to make “estimated” tax payments during the course of the year (quarterly I believe)…theoretically it’s to offset the impact on the taxpayer of having to come up with the total payout in one lump sum

anti-tax cynics here argue its to allow the govt. to grab as much of the cash before the self employed are driven out of business by the tax…

another reason I never took the consultant route

4. d.z. bodenberg - August 7, 2008

In Barcelona there was this lovely company that can find out if you are owed or owing BEFORE you submit your details

Doesn’t that -it-probably-also-installs-the-government’s-keylogging-program-on-to-Bib’s-laptop-tax-thing-named-after-a-bird-that-you-have-to-use also do the same thing? Though it doesn’t always seem to get the results exactly right. I phoned up the tax office last year with the complaint that the program estimated I’d get about 9p more back than I actually did. “Hm, we can’t explain it. But it’s clearly rubbish, as, regardless of what the program says to you, you can’t get back more tax than you actually paid in the first place. So no 9p extra for you, sucker.” Or something like that, in old-tax-woman-Berlinerisch.
I put the three extra biscuits I bought with my no-longer-mine-9p to one side for a better day. But as they were Belarussian biscuits, they went soft very rapidly and were no use for anything.

5. BiB - August 7, 2008

Narrowback, that sounds remarkably similar to the system here. Once you’re into the groove of declarations, you do, indeed, make quarterly payments based on what you paid the year before. My problem is that I’m guessing I’ve been underpaying. Which isn’t a problem as far as they’re concerned, at least, but I will cry for a week when I get the bill… and then cry for another week when I find the money to transfer to them.

I like the anti-tax cynics’ view. Of course I kleinbürgerlichly love paying tax, but doing it this way, rather than it disappearing nicely automatically from your wages every month, gives it a different feel. For some whole days I will wave my fist at official buildings and say it is mad for the state to make me bankrupt and then, when I calm down, at myself for not putting the money aside. (Tax is hardly unpredictable, after all.)

6. BiB - August 7, 2008

d.z., my apologies. You were sent to spamming purgatory, but I magnanimously absolved you, and you become sinless.

Yes, the programme – do you mean it’s now sitting and spying on my laptop? It’s off at the moment so I hope their spying man-hours are being wasted – does give an estimate and I hope it’s very, very wrong. Plus, of course, it will up the amount I’m paying in advance (of a declaration) for this year.

Anyway, the sun’s out, so that’s something, isn’t it?

7. d.z. bodenberg - August 7, 2008

It is indeed something. But technically I’m not allowed to leave my flat, so should I get any kind of suntan they’d get very suspicious down at job-seekers’-central. I have to watch out for the postman *and* be within reach of my telephone, just in case the Arbeitsamt finds me a job which they will “advise”* me to apply for, even if the company will almost certainly not want me and the job is 450 kilometres from here in a town with the charmingness of Rostock-Lichtenhagen, or Stevenage.

*Should I not take their “advice”, its no unemployment benefit for me. Hm.

8. d.z. bodenberg - August 7, 2008

does give an estimate and I hope it’s very, very wrong

It reckons you owe then more than 9p then I take it? I’ve landed in spam purgatory again! Until now, it only used to happen over at hungryinberlin (always). Perhaps wordpress have banned the use of the word “Belarus*”

9. BiB - August 7, 2008

d.z., I have scoured your comments for the word Belarus and haven’t found it once.

Does this mean you and your (previous?) employer have officially bid each other farewell?

I appear to have hay fever for the first time this year, having decided I’d conquered it. Is there something about resurgent August sun that does this to plants?

10. d.z. bodenberg - August 7, 2008

Yes. It doesn’t stop the jobcentre from “suggesting” I apply for jobs at the same company, though.

Hay fever, yes, it’s got me too. Though my GP is convinced it’s actually asthma and I will have to take their stupid, side-effect-laden medicines for the rest of my life. I did get 40 Euro though to listen to such dross, so I won’t complain too much.

11. BiB - August 7, 2008

d.z., you get paid to go to the doctor’s? I am clearly doing very many things wrong in life.

I’m a life-long asthmatic and very dreary it is too. But, I must say, to the drugs’ credit, Ventolin/Salbutamol is the best medicine ever. No matter how bad the shortness of breath or chest-heaving wheeze ever gets, a puff of that little beauty and you instantaneously feel better. The green skin and second head are a small price to pay.

So, if this is an appropriate place to ask, did that working relationship come to an end in a way that met your satisfaction?

12. Mr D - August 8, 2008

Green skin on your second head? I think I’d recommend antibiotics at the very least!

(*Runs away and hides!*)

So is it sunny in Germany? Oh how I miss the sun! It’s cold, grey and damp in Yorkshire. So no surprise there. I’m now going to have to force myself out of the house.

13. BiB - August 8, 2008

It’s 7pm and I have to say it’s the perfectest evening I’ve ever known. Not blazing sunshine but enough to raise even the lowest spirits. The sky a perfect light blue. And the street outside quiet in the loveliest way possible.

Leave that darned island behind!

14. Mr D - August 8, 2008

Grrrr. Roll on Sunday! I’ll then spend a week writing a little something I have to write, followed by two weeks of travelling everywhere in and within reach of Germany. It’ll probably be autumn by then, though. Oh well, there’s always next summer!

15. BiB - August 8, 2008

Hopefully we’ll get a few more weeks’ of niceness. Plus a glorious Indian summer. And we’ll still be wandering around in shorts in November. (Can’t bear to think of the more accurate real picture.)

16. Mr D - August 8, 2008

If my memory serves me well – which it rarely does, but I digress – I’m sure, or as sure as I can be when I can’t be sure of being sure, that I started the winter semester in mid-October last year still in shorts. But then, I am currently living much nearer to the Equator than you Berliners. Currently being there, not here.

(I think my head may explode. Serves me right for spending the afternoon reading a detailed explanation of the latest Danish comma rules, rather than going on the day-trip to York I’d been considering.)

17. BiB - August 8, 2008

My knowledge of Yorkshire is a disgrace. I’ve been to Leeds a few times. Went to Haworth on an excellently grey, grim day. Almost made it to Sheffield once (but found it too depressing and diverted to Leeds). And that is it. Hopeless. And there must be just oodles of beauty up there waiting to be discovered. I haven’t been able to show the Russian much of England or the rest of the UK at all. London, Glasgow, Edinburgh for ten seconds, Sussex… that’s his lot. Might try to get to the UK with him later this month.

18. Mr D - August 9, 2008

Take him to York. I haven’t been for years, but it should still be there: The Shambles, the Minster, the walls that you can walk on and their gateways (eg Micklegate Bar) the Jorvík viking museum, the Castle Museum, the street names (eg Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Gate), etc. They even do guided ghost walks in the evenings, as plenty of ghosts have been seen in York, but I’ve never been on one. (A ghost walk, that is, rather than a ghost.)

19. BiB - August 9, 2008

…and I’ve got a feeling that York is one of those places that London’s got a surprisingly good rail connection to. I think even my mother did a day-trip there once with one of her sisters. Naturally, I assume it’ll cost 400 quid each way.

20. Mr D - August 9, 2008

A day-trip from London? Sounds tiring.

Yep, it would be expensive by rail. 400 quid each way would probably be the reduced fare for managing to book in advance: several years before you were born, to be more precise…

In all honesty, a few years ago I had to rush down to London last minute on an early train (before 9am), and it cost me over £100, second class, return (with the return ticket being only a few pounds more than the single ticket, of course).

With Leeds being 200 miles north of London, that made it 50p a mile (or 25p a mile there and back). I have no idea how that compares to petrol prices.

I don’t think the coach prices are too bad, though.

21. BiB - August 10, 2008

Then again, I am normally overcome by insatiable lethargy the second I touch the sacred soil and want to do nothing but eat crumpets and watch telly until returning, not unhappily, to the airport however long later. This month is due to be horribly worky but I simply have to make a trip ‘home’. It would make things easier if the Russian didn’t need a visa every time, of course.

22. Mr D - August 11, 2008

I feel like doing nothing, too. Watching TV is good, even when most of it’s bad.

The thought of having to travel back via one of Britain’s annoying transport options is always looming in the distance, though, as a constant nagging stress in the back of my mind.

There’s no pleasant option for getting over/under/across that water. You’re limited to annoying airports, extortionate ferries or a hideous rail service that thinks it’s an airline.

If it wasn’t for my parents I’d never have to put myself through travelling into and out of this joke of an island.

How can one country make travel so hard?

23. BiB - August 12, 2008

I hope the remainder of your stay is as bearable as possible. I used to be thrilled with Eurostar when it was new, plus I lived in Paris at (or around) that time, because I was asked for my passport, in French, when still in England. But is it extortionate? Which would make things a pain. And I’m yet to fall in love with the new St. Pancras. Hope your ferry trip provides some adventure.

24. marshaklein - August 12, 2008

Take the Russian to York and you can eat crumpets (and lots of other good things) in Betty’s Tea Rooms, while passing the whole thing off as a cultural trip. The Klein family does it all the time. Everyone should go to York once in a while.

25. BiB - August 12, 2008

Marshypops, this sounds like a very good idea. But if we make it over to the island or not is another thing. Visas (well, OK, one visa). WORK. (We both wail constantly, within earshot of each other, “I don’t want to be a translator.”) And, oh god, oh god, oh god, tax. Still waiting for the demand. But, to our mutual horror, the phone rang today and we could see it was the tax folk. Ringing! We hid in the bathroom and waited for it to go away.

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