Oh, how I hate that word. It means “tax” in German. You may wonder why I’m frustrated with German taxes when I live in Malaysia. Obviously you’ve never lived in Germany. You see, even though we’ve been in Malaysia for almost two years now, we’re still waiting on our 2004 & 2005 tax returns from Germany. We made a valliant effort to resolve the 2004 taxes while we were still living in Munich for the first part of 2005. But, alas, to no one’s suprise but my own, the German government refuted our claims for a refund month after month.
Of course, we’re not dealing directly with the Finanzamt all on our own. We have a “tax lady.” I wish I could say I have confidence in our tax lady, but I really don’t. She did all five years of our taxes and we’re still waiting for the results from two. The first three were a constant battle of receipts, and receipts for receipts, and bank statements confirming the receipts for the receipts. You know, the receipt for a purchase isn’t actually the proof of purchase in Germany. You need proof that you have proof. And then, maybe, if Hans (over here on the right) is still curious, you need proof that the bank agrees that you have proof.
You would think that our tax lady could prevent us from this hassle. After all, we did pay her at least Euro 300 every time she did our taxes. Not so. She just does the paperwork and sends us the bill. Why did we stay with her, you ask? Well, I suppose it was partly laziness, partly the fact that her office was right down the street, and partly because we prefer to pretend like the nightmare of German beauracracy is just that: a nightmare, not real life. So, we had our tax lady prepare our 2004 taxes, for which she told us we would receive a refund of Euro 3000. And, our taxes for 2005, which we should earn us a similar refund, if not more.
And, then 2 years go by.
In the meantime, we’ve sent receipts upon receipts upon reciepts confirming that we did actually buy a computer, go to a conference, travel to the US for classes, etc, etc. Several cryptic, German (and therefore somewhat angry) e-mails later, we have been bullied into paying Euro 215. And that’s just for 2004. We haven’t even started the battle for 2005 yet.
Just in case you were wondering, I will not be living in Germany again. Ever.
Image 1 from: http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/img/68/0,1886,2480836,00.jpg
Image 2 from: http://www.hans.de/pics/hans.jpg