Quote: "What's the difference between a taxidermist and the tax man. A taxidermist leaves the skin". Mark Twain.
Had an appointment with the tax man today. Turned out to be a tax lady, very friendly, very efficient.
Usually you can do your tax returns online here in South Africa, known a E-filing. Well try as I might I could not open my e-file. After making enquiries it seems that, SARS, (South African Revenue Service), needed an update on my banking details, residential address, and identity document. This has to be done in person, no posting of certified copies, etc..
Well visiting the tax office is about as appealing as root canal without anaesthetic. The last time I went to the same office, it took about 5 hours to complete my tax business. Today was a totally different experience.
I got to the office at 7am, after leaving home just before 6. Tax office is in Pietermaritzburg, 100km's from home. The queue was already halfway up the block. Just before opening time, 8am, (by now the queue stretched right up the block and around the corner),two employees came out and started asking each person what his exact business was at SARS. Every one got a coloured card of laminated cardboard, blue for tax returns, like myself, orange for payments, green for something else.
Then the doors were opened, we were taken to a reception area upstairs with chairs, every one seated according to his place in the queue irrespective of your particular need, or business there. Hardly sat down when we were ushered downstairs again, still in our order of arrival, where you showed your piece of coloured cardboard to a lady at a computer terminal to get a number. Obviously when the colour was typed in, the computer then worked out where you were going. My number was 51, printed on a label with a bar code. Again we had to sit down and told to watch a large flat TV screen for your number and service point. With the number 51, I knew I was in for a long wait. All the time more people were streaming in.
Well great was my surprise when hardly 10 minutes later my number flashed on the screen, service point 6. At service point 6, I was greeted by a very pretty young Zulu lady, named Londiwe ( with such a smile), that for a moment I thought I was young and handsome again.
I handed her my crumpled mess of papers, proof of income, proof of tax paid, (PAYE), expenses, etc. She took them, sorted it all out and entered the details on the computer. Then told me that if I brought in certain other documents, which I hadn't thought about, I was entitled to additional rebates. My tax return is now pending and I will take the necessary documentation tomorrow. My old number, 51, was reallocated to me, to speed up the process even more when I get there. Fifteen minutes later, I staggered out quite stunned at the efficiency of it all, hardly 40 minutes from beginning to end.
Almost makes you look forward to paying tax.