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The last month at my previous company was the most pleasant I had spent in my 6 years and 4 months employment. Partly due to Boss Lady being overseas [globe-trotting around Europe, because the company doesn’t make enough to offer its staff decent increases] and in part because I went on a go-slow, in the name of training my replacement.

My assistant wasn’t able to handle 1/10 of my work and so a second assistant was hired to help with the workload. She too wasn’t coping [and I hadn’t even handed over all my “problem children” as yet] so before I left they were conducting interview for a third person to fill my position.

And no-one believed me when I said I was doing the job of four people. Oh well – they live and learn. [Last I heard, they are looking at another person to help out in my department, as the three ladies are drowning. Hehehe.]

Boss Lady returned to the office two days before my final hoo-rah, and was kind enough to give a fitting farewell, which I found rather touching. We had a fabulous lunch [which everyone sat in their respective offices and ate] and I was handed a goodie-bag with make-up, perfume, clothes, chocolates, a brooch and a weird looking wooden doll [WTF].

Oh, but before my grand exit, there was a bit of drama.

On the Tuesday, my penultimate day at Hell Hole; I received a call from our HR consultant, which as the past has taught me, never bodes well.

Hi Harmony.

Hi Nasty HR

I have some bad news for you

Oh?

I can’t pay you your salary today

[noting that it was already 4 days late, because my expired contract stated that I was to receive my salary on the 25th of the month]

Why not?

SARS have contacted me and because you owe them R16,000 in penalties, the company is legally required to deduct this from your salary.

WTF?

So I suggest you urgently go see them and sign come to payment arrangement, otherwise we have to deduct that money and pay it over to them.

Seriously? Seriously!

I’m not disputing that perhaps I hadn’t submitted a return or two over the years, and I’m also not doubting the validity that SARS contacted the company – however the timing [the day before my last day] had me thinking something was rotten in the state of Denmark [one of the many European countries Boss Lady had recently visited].

As for owing them R16,000 in penalties alone – how is that even possible???

Having no choice but to visit our delightful government organisation, I roped in the cavalry, in the guise of good old faithful Kevin.

Fortunately my office was a block away from the local SARS office, so I didn’t have to battle with finding an elusive parking space, and took a short walk down the road. Thankfully too, I was uncharacteristically wearing flat shoes that day.  [Sometimes, the Universe does like me.]

I entered the building, received my number: 892, and took a seat to await my summons.

Kevin took almost an hour to get to me, as he was on a job in the South and still had to drop his father off at another client before coming to my rescue. But I hadn’t moved, and I was nowhere near to having my number called.

Kevin decided that since he was at SARS, he would take the opportunity to have a consultant assist with doing his latest return, so he too obtained a number.

Another sixty minutes ticked by and finally my number was called.  I entered the office of elderly lady, and hoped that her age equated to experience, and we could quickly resolve the matter.

However it seemed that my luck had run out, as the news wasn’t good.

There were returns from 2008 and 2011 outstanding, and somehow that had accrued to R16,000 in penalties. I explained my situation to the consultant and requested how to go about coming to a payment arrangement in order to still receive my full salary without the government taking it all via the evil HR.

Madame Aged said that I shouldn’t sign an acknowledgement of debt, and should rather file an appeal with the view to having my penalties reduced.

Great! Let’s do that!

First you need to get an affidavit to state why you didn’t submit your returns.

No problem, I’ll quickly write something out if you can sign it.

No can do. You need to get it certified at the police station

By this time it was 15h15 and the SARS office were closing in 45 minutes.

Wasting no time, I dashed out of the building and power-walked backed to the office where I speed-typed a semi-accurate letter of excuse and then stuck my head in Boss Lady’s office with a hasty update and then flew in the Feisty Fiesta to the nearest police station.

Luckily everyone in the queue was there to have docs signed, as with only one police officer in attendance, I’d have been there until midnight had anyone been there to report a crime.

With signed and stamped letter in hand, I texted Kevin and asked him to obtain a secondary number for me, so that I wouldn’t have long to wait in the queue; and with 7 minutes to spare, I sped a hasty retreat back to SARS. Small mercies for residing and working in a small town.

I made it through the doors in the nick of time however I couldn’t find Kevin and I had run out of airtime so couldn’t contact him, and had no idea how to send a please call me. With no other option, I took another number.

1101.

Fortunately I was called not long after taking a seat, and after entering another office, I had to repeat my sob story to another consultant.

My name-sake [a sure sign that the tides were going to turn] was aghast at the run-around I had been given by the old lady, and said that I didn’t need an affidavit or even a letter, as any of the consultants on duty could merely lodge the appeal on the computer system on my behalf.

*sob*

Harmony2 was also taken aback that the ancient one had given me the incorrect information; it wasn’t 2008 and 2011 returns that were missing; it was 2001 to 2015 [oops] and H2 kindly submitted all my missing returns whilst I was in her office, in order to prevent the accrual of any further penalties.

She also submitted my appeal and had the head of SARS provided me with a formal letter for my employers to release my salary pending the outcome of the appeal, noting that even if it wasn’t successful, I could pay it off at R500 a month.

It was after 17h00 when Kevin [who’d been having his own returns submitted – with a wonderful refund which has since paid for a new fabulous bamboo memory foam mattress for us] joined me in the office and it was close on 17h30 when I returned to the office with letter excepting the HR cow from retaining my salary.

*sigh*

Oh and did I mention that HR offered to do my returns at R450 a piece …. a reduction from R750; which would have seen me R6,750 out of pocket. And I wonder how she thought I was going to pay that after almost leaving me salaryless.


When there’s a single thief, it’s robbery. When there are a thousand thieves, it’s taxation.
~Vanya Cohen

What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.
~Thomas Paine

Another difference between death and taxes is that you don’t have to work like fury to pay for the dying you did last year.
~Robert Quillen

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.
~Herman Wouk

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