Gefilte Fish Out of Water


Pants Crap
February 13, 2010, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Official Immigrant Stuff | Tags: ,

I came home from a morning walk this week and found this notice in my mailbox.  I knew it was from a government office, but could tell it wasn’t from the office of Bituach Leumi (health insurance + social security), nor was it from my insurance company.  I pay rent directly to my landlord, so I knew it wasn’t that.  I guess it could’ve been Pete’s dog license from the city (which I never received), but I didn’t think it was that either.  I could recognize the sign for New Israeli Shekel followed buy the numbers 3874, though, and….let’s just say I didn’t have a good feeling about this.

I had no option but to type letter-by-letter, phrases from the notice into Google Translate, which was very cumbersome.  I confirmed that the 3874 was a BIG-ASS fine, which the government was saying I had to pay immediately.  Say it with me now, people:

WTF !!!

I brought it with me to the dog park, hoping my friend Oren would be there and could read it.  He wasn’t, but I wound up asking this nice dog walker I had seen before.  She took a look at it and explained to me – It’s from the Israeli IRS.  They say if you don’t pay them 3874 shekels [$1047!!!] immediately, they can break into your home and take whatever they want.

[there’s no bigger font, people – or I would double the size]

F ! ! !

Welcome to Israel, she said apologetically, and left with her dogs.

Then, Oren did show up.  I showed him the notice and told him what the dog walker said about it.  Ha! he scoffed.  I’m sure it doesn’t say they can break into your place and take whatever they want. I handed it to him, and he looked it over.  Yeah, it pretty much says they can break into your place and take whatever they want, Scott.

[Um, this is the part where I crapped my pants.]  No, I didn’t – not literally or figuratively.  I had a hunch what had caused this.  I am a freelancer in Israel.  I have two employers.  Both are American firms.  That means I am exempt from paying a 17% tax on that income.  (If they were Israeli employers, I would have billed for and received a separate check with each paycheck for this 17% amount, which I would then give to the government.)  But because my employers are based in the U.S., I am exempt from this.

Although it appeared that the Israeli IRS had not gotten the message about my employers being American, and they thought I was delinquent.  Instead of crapping my pants, I did the next best thing – called my friend Anna.  She let me give her the whole story.  I was not panicking, b/c I was sure I didn’t owe this money – but I was disturbed by the whole “we can bust into your place and take whatever we want” aspect of the notice, and I was afraid we weren’t going to straighten it out soon enough, and I’d come home with my computer repossessed.

Anna calmly reminded me how slow and inept the beaurocracy is, and surely no one would be busting into my place for at least the next year.  It’s just paperwork, she assured me.  The system dictates that this is the form they have to send you, but trust me – no one has the intention of actually busting into your place and doing this.

I emailed my accountant right away, and the next morning went into the office and scanned & emailed a copy of the notice to him pronto.  He emailed back a short while later to say Oh, yeah, Nina from my office dealt with this last week.  You had never filled out paperwork documenting that your employers are American, so they didn’t know.  It’s all been taken care of now.  You can disregard the notice.

That’s what I pay him the big bucks for.  🙂  Yay.

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[…] I got that crazy letter from the Israel Tax Authority, saying i owed 3900 shekels ($768) and that they were authorized to […]

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