Sunday, 16 August 2015

Taxpayer beware

Taxpayer, beware

Not that recently one of regional tax office branches boasted about soaring tax collection rates, as a result of simplifying the language in which letters to taxpayers are written. Plain Polish works miracles, yet workings of tax administration as a whole still could do with some improvements.

I have not expected to receive any letter from the tax office. Since I earned my first money in 2007 until last week, I had not got any, yet on Monday I found this in the letterbox…

In principle, you could argue whether it is written in plain Polish. For me the missive is generally comprehensive, although I had to read it twice to get the message. It could have been shortened, I suppose, cause brevity as a rule adds clarity.

Before filing the tax return I double-checked it, especially personal data and tax calculations, yet as it turned out, I missed one thing – after putting KRS (national register of legal entities) number I failed to write the amount of tax I wished to be transferred to a beneficiary (charity, foundation, etc). I don’t know why, I thought it was obvious, if I wish to donate 1%, it is 1%. The situation proves you might wish to donate less than 1% and must specify the exact amount even if the don’t wish to make any haircuts…

A quick glance at webpages dedicated to tax accounting does not give the answer how exactly to clear the issue, but the letter instructs clearly not to tamper with 1% donations. In order to find out how to get the amendment right I call the contact person in the tax office the next day. The lady informs me I need to submit: 1) an amended tax return, 2) a written justification why the amendment is being on made (on a special form) and lets me know I may not now write the correct amount to be donated to a beneficiary, since after 30 April it is too late, so the only way to straighten things out is to fill the two fields (KRS number and amount) blank.

OK, I screwed it up, lesson learnt, apologies to the ones not better off. Since I filed the tax returns in person, I need to make the correction personally as well. The tax office is opened from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so has exactly the same opening hours as my “usual” working hours, hence the most reasonable way to visit it is to decide to turn up to work later. I pick up the documents and when in the office, I go exactly to the room of the person who sent me the letter to me. She checks the amendment forms, says it is OK, enters it into the system, I am about to leave and…

…I am stopped in my tracks. “Sir will not leave now, sir has not filed sir’s personal income tax return for 2013”. “What the f**k?”, I think. I turn back and argue this must be an error. The lady insists the computer sees all my tax returns, except the one for fiscal 2013… I kindly ask the lady not to write relevant summons (with threats of severe fines for shirking the duty of tax accounting) and promise to return in half an hours with relevant documents confirming I am clear with the tax office.

I rush to the car, at home I quickly find two documents which confirm I entitled the Employer do fill the tax return (PIT-12) on my behalf and the very return (PIT-40) sent to the tax office by the Employer. I copy the documents in case the tax officials want to keep it, grab them and drive back to the tax office.

The lady greets me with lovely smile on her face. “I found it”, she exclaims, “your accounts have been done by your employer, the Employer”, she says. “Indeed”, I sigh…

The whole story actual looks to have brought no benefits – wasted paper, waster time of clerks from the tax office, my wasted time, my unnecessary stress. Water to the mill of a ruthless bureaucratic machine… The tax office branch in Piaseczno has a splendid new building I had a chance to sightsee. The modernity of the edifice could however go together with smart work done inside it…

1 comment:

Michael Dembinski said...

"Taxpayers beware"...

Beware of what?

This brings to mind the final scene of the Coen Brother's most excellent film, Burn After Reading (Polish title Tajne przez poufne):

Chubb: What do we learn, Palmer?

Palmer: I don't know, sir.

Chubb: I don't f***ing know, either. I guess we learn not to do it again.

Palmer: Yes, sir.

Chubb: I'm f***ed if I know what we did.

This entire episode with the tax office, in which an entirely innocent taxpayer is made to sweat because of an administrative cock-up is exactly what needs to change if Poland's tax system is to become healthy.