Love, death, taxes and Czechman

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How does it go? Something about only two things being certain in life: death and taxes?

You may have noticed the absence of a certain person from my recent posts.

Czechman.

Unsurprisingly, he started to get slightly grumpy about being poked fun at in public, especially as most of my references to him tended to concentrate on what we might diplomaticaly call his, ahem, ‘thrifty’ nature.

However, thanks to his knowledge of matters financial, Czechman proved himself to be a true hero last week.  And I think it’s about time I sang his praises in public.  So Czechman, thanks.

What exactly has my dashing Czech chap done in order to deserve my gratitude?

He helped me with my taxes.

Any British readers out there who are yet to set foot in Czechland will struggle to understand just what a big deal this is.  In England if you are employed  ‘sorting out your taxes’ generally means sending off your P60 or if you’ve switched jobs during the same year, the couple of P45s you should have saved up.  That’s it.

In Kafkaland, things are not so simple.

It all started off when I received an email from the accounts department (in Cesky) asking me to come and sign some tax-related paperwork.  As no-one there speaks English, I’ll admit I felt somewhat triumphant that I managed to handle this without any assistance.

I recounted the incident to Czechman on his return home in the evening.

‘The lady asked me if I was employed somewhere else  and I understood and so I signed something and then I left.

‘They had lots of onions on the windowsill. I think they were drying them or something.  I wanted to ask about the onions but I felt too shy.’

‘What exactly did you sign?’ asks Czechman.

‘Umm, I dunno.’

‘YOU SIGNED SOMETHING AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS?’

‘Umm. Yes.  But I understood the question she asked.  Isn’t that good? Why do you think she’s drying onions in her office?’

‘Jezismarja, to snad neni mozny…’

[Rough translation: “I am somewhat frustrated with your inability to deal with this matter properly.”]

After some further investigation on Czechman’s part it seems that I should be able to claim a substantial tax rebate (woo!) but not before I have visited various different offices with various different bits of paper which have to be shown as evidence in order to collect various other bits of paper which when taken together and accompanied by another form which I must sign in triplicate in my own blood will prove that I have paid too much tax.

I could not cope with the visits to the offices alone.  In fact, I wouldn’t even know which offices to visit or which bits of paper to take or what to say when confronted with a less than helpful woman behind a desk in front of a computer which only says no.

Czechman knows the way though and has the necessary patience to guide me along it. I spend several days following him down long corridors lit with horrible fluorescent strip lighting and nodding while he talks to the various women behind desks and signing in the places he points to.  I feel a little bit like those Bengali women I used to teach in London (minus the hijab) who had their husbands who drove taxis or ran shops and could speak English properly to do all the important administrative tasks.

I’m not delighted that he doesn’t believe in Valentines Day or kissing in public or anniversaries of any kind.  The money isn’t in my account just yet so perhaps I shouldn’t count my proverbial chickens before they’ve emerged from their metaphorical hatches.

But.

Helping me negotiate the Czech tax maze may just be the most romantic thing Czechman has ever done for me.

11 Comments

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11 Responses to Love, death, taxes and Czechman

  1. Richardinprague

    Oh, Czechgirl, I can imagine what you’ve been going through! I had to rely on my milovana manzelka to help me through the maze when I first came here, and I agree it’s quite a saga.

    Probably the most difficult thing so far was in avoiding double taxation, because I get a small pension in the UK, and it was being taxed there, and again here! The problem was that the B*st*rds in the UK wouldn’t believe I was paying tax here unless I sent them a form (in english of course) stamped and signed by someone in the Czech tax office. Of course it took several weeks to identify the only man in the tax office who (a) could speak english, and (b) knew what the form was. Eventually it was accepted in the UK, and I got all my UK tax back, and I now receive my pension gross.

    The next problem I’m looking forward to is how I claim my UK state pension when I reach 65. I’ve paid my stamps all my life, and I hope I’m going to get something out of it. It used to be straightforward – regardless of where you live outside the UK, you put in a claim to the Nottingham tax office, and you got your pension paid tax-free wherever you want it.

    Nowadays, however, the EU has decided to “Harmonise” pensions, so, although I have paid the stamps in the UK, I’m supposed to put in my claim at the Czech tax office!

    The normal expression is either Ach jo, or J.Maria!

    Nice to have you back on line!

  2. Hi GIC,
    Like Richard in his comment above, I too am glad to have you blogging again.

    Particularly if you receive income from more than one source, it is essential to have someone who is both a first-language Czech speaker & who knows the system, to help you complete your tax return & ensure you aren’t paying more tax than you should be. I’m fortunate in having a Czech (but fluent English-speaking) tax accountant who runs my Church payroll who is completing the necessary paperwork on my behalf to submit to the authorities before the end of this month as Czech law requires.

    Very nice to have a post in praise of Czechman – it may just be me being male, but I do think you do sometimes give him rather a hard time in your posts on this blog. After all, why should he believe in Valentine’s Day when it is an American/British import, or anniversaries when neither GIC nor your real first name have Czech ‘Names days’. But not being willing to kiss you in public – now that is very un-Czech. Not only do nearly all the Czech young couples I see happily kiss in public, about which I have no problem whatsoever, quite often they do a good deal more than that including activities which might be better reserved for when they are in a more private space!

    If you do get your tax rebate – and I hope you do – rather than just a foreign holiday, what about a honeymoon? But then Czechman would need to propose to you first-of-all! Now I’m poking fun at him 🙂

  3. Michael

    Taxes are always a nightmare…good for Czechman. Not to pick…your Czech is way better than mine will ever be, but isn’t that Jezis a Maria?

    • misunka

      Yeah, “‘ISS ISS MARIA TO NENI POSERU STEBOU…’ is “Jezismarja, to snad neni mozny, ja se z tebe poseru” just to teach u a bit of “proper” cursing in Czech :)))

  4. Today I laughed twice over same topic – taxes! Who would ever guess!
    My husband here in California, did our taxes today. He needed to fill out just two sheets of papers. He wanted to print the directions from the IRS web side. There were 99 pages of them! So he decided to pick them up in person from the IRS office. But where the office use to be was only a sign with an arrow, directing him around the corner. He followed the arrow but there was no IRS and no more signs.
    The last time I followed some arrows that miraculously ended was on the Czech hiking trail.
    I laughed only because I wasn’t involved in yours or in my husband’s tax scenario. And I just love both of you for that.
    Lenka

  5. Lucky girl! I’m currently navigating the Czech-tax-social-security-bureaucracy–solo. 🙁 I went to the SSI office last week to try to get some paperwork filed, and five minutes in I started to tear up in frustration. Could have used a “Czechman” that day. Now I have an accountant. Unfortunately, can’t pay him in “kisses”. Ha!

  6. oh my goodness I sympathise 100%. I am self-employed here and whilst a number of people assure me that I will pay far less tax here than in the eqivilent situation in the UK, sometimes I would rather take the financial hit. Whoever thought I would miss those little letter PAYE after the details of my monthly salary? Every month here it seems I am paying VAT, OZP, PSSZ or income tax. I have paid for the services of a nice tax person as I just dont have the patience (and no Czechman to help).
    I regularly sign things I don’t understand and send money to government/tax people I don’t know as there seems to be little other way!
    I think close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope for the best!
    Good luck (and well done Czechman!)
    x

    • girlinczechland

      Thanks Czeching In!
      Everything must have gone smoothly because I received a considerable rebate which was paid straight into my bank account last month. Hurrah! Czechman is indeed a star… (queue ‘aww’…)
      GIC

  7. Michael

    Its been a long time since your last article so hopefully you got a massive tax reurn that is currently financing a year long trip around the world. Enjoy!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Michael,
      No exotic trip fuelled by the massive tax return alas, but I am still in Czechland and the land of the living. Hope to regale you all with more of my entertaining tales soon!
      GIC

  8. daadulla

    😀 may I borough your Czechman for next year? just to explain even though I´m czech but neither I neither my man cann´t understand that pink piece of paper.

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