Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Please hold, we will attend to you at the next..." *TOOT*

The entire day today, I've been battling government bureaucracy. I'm trying to be a good little citizen, filing my income tax before the deadline, and to my delight and surprise - South Africa has electronic filing of taxes available!

...except when it's working of course.

So I filed my taxes way back in December, then got an email notice a few weeks later saying they required "more supporting documentation". This is what the notice said:

Like er... OK, what EXACTLY do they need from me? I can't believe they didn't specify this and sent out a super generic notice. Pretty inefficient, don't you think? If I send them the wrong thing back, it'll be back and forth like a tennis game. And anyway, as far as I understood, the IRP5 and ITR3 forms are handed in by the company you work for and I don't have any medical or annuity funds like they suggested... so... WHAT?!

I tried calling the Call Centre helpline, and it's such a joke... an automated voice comes on asking you to press for certain options... so I pressed my way through "income tax"... "speak with operator"... and then the line just hangs up on me. ?!?? So I tried again. And the same thing happened again. ?!??

Okaaaaay... very weird. So then I tried to press for other options, since eventually all options usually lead back to an operator or agent of sorts. Again, after getting to a certain point, the line suddenly hangs up and goes to an engaged tone. This time it was more like ?!?? #$&^!%&$(@ ?!??

I honestly tried this at least 5 times before finally getting to an option which said "please stay on the line, an agent will be with you shortly", SUCCESS! ...Then the on-hold music comes on. played for about 30 seconds, and then I kid you not... the entire line just went dead and went to an engaged dial tone.

?!??? #(*%^@#^%%&@ ?!???# !!!???#$&@^$)%(@&

These guys REALLY don't want to be contacted!

Ever the persistent person I am, I went through the same process all over again, pressing for the magical options that led me to the on-hold music, just in case it happened to be a dodgy phone connection or something, giving them the benefit of the doubt... and yet again, I got up until the on-hold music. Never have I been so pleased to hear "Greensleeves" playing on the other line... and of course you know what happens by now. Yes, I got cut off again in mid-song and got that dead, engaged dial tone.

OK, never mind, this is Africa (to quote Leo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond "T.I.A.")

I figured I would just re-submit everything all over again, from IRP5 forms, bank statements and the like - they could have it all since I had no idea what they wanted!

So then I tried uploading my files onto my e-filing page since the letter said I could also do that. But funnily, while I could upload the file on the site, no where does it say "Submit" or confirm that SARS (South African Revenue Services) has received it.

I got so fed up that I went oldskool and decided to just snail mail everything by registered mail. I can't remember the last time I walked into a post office to do something like that. Feels so archaic!

So... to SARS: "A" for effort, "F" for execution. Boo for wasting my entire day!

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