Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Working Poor, Me!

Israeli income tax isn't done like American. I grew up with an accountant (later CPA) father whose annual calendar/schedule revolved around April 15, the official deadline for submitting tax forms. He was a one-man business most of the year. The only time he hired anyone to help was before that deadline during "tax season." While two of my mother's nephews were in college, they were trusted and hired as my father's assistants, and one of them even became an accountant, too.

In Israel, if you're an employee with just one job, you don't have to fill out any forms besides the once a year one in which you submit to the authorities via the employer saying that you have only one source of income. Taxes are calculated at source by the employer.

A few years ago, I discovered that by filling out a simple form in the Post Office, I, as a part-time minimum wage worker could get a bit of extra money. It's known as the "negative income tax." The first time I read the letter from the tax authorities I thought it was a trick, but my daughter told me to take care of it. It's no joke. So now I make a point of going into the post office with my Teudat Zehut, Identity Card and checkbook. Yes, that's it. The clerk fills out the form. Once, in the Ofra post office, he insulted me by saying that I do not look like the picture in my I.D. But after an unpleasant delay, he realized who I am and said he knows my daughter and did his job.

Pisgat Ze'ev Post Office, while waiting on line

This year, actually two days ago, right before the deadline, I finally took care of it. This time there was a complication with my bank account, because the branch we had been using for years had closed. That meant that although my checks (from the old one) are still good for paying, the bank computer didn't recognize the old branch and account numbers which the clerk had copied from the checks. Luckily my husband was home and after going through all sorts of papers found the new numbers. The clerk was extremely nice, patient and tolerant of the situation.

Between waiting my turn and the mess with the numbers, I spent a full hour in the post office. Gd willing within a few weeks I'll get my usual letter saying that I'm eligible for a sum of money which will be deposited in my account by the tax authorities. It will certainly come in handy.

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