Another year, another fast and painless….

tax time!

Just like last year, I took the tax forms mailed to me (and those generated by the company I work for) to the Ximen Finance Ministry office. (It was beastly hot and the tax office is a 15-minute walk from the MRT station.) The section for foreigners is well-marked, with English-speaking helpers at each station. They help fill out a paper form, do a series of calculations, and voila! The total (refund or amount owed) pops up. Next, you wait your turn to speak with a professional tax preparer who checks the helpers work and does the final calculations.

Last year I got a refund. This year, I made 32,000 NT (~1000USD) too much to qualify for the 12% tax bracket, darn it. When the helper told me I was in the 20% tax bracket, I said “good for Taiwan” and she smiled. Of course, that “extra” pay was eaten up by what I owed. Oh well…

To pay what I owed, I walked 10 steps to a payment counter. They took my ATM card and within minutes, I had paid my taxes owing. Back to the tax preparer who printed a lovely blue “certificate of taxes paid” to be used when I file my US taxes next year.

Despite the fact that today was the last day to file taxes, I was in and out in less than 45 minutes!

Tax time in Taiwan

Every year in May, everyone living and working in Taiwan makes their way to the closest district tax office (no appointment needed and most work places give you half-a-day off  for this purpose).

I went before lunch time; walking the Daan MRT, changing trains at Zhongxiao Fuxing, and getting out at 4 stops later at Ximen. I exited at exit 6, walked 10 minutes (not sure which direction) and there was the tax administration building.

The tax office in Ximen

As you walk in, the signs are very clearly marked, so that foreigners know where to go, and in a large room, several friendly interns looked at the forms mailed out by the government months ago and helped me fill out a one-sided form. Then, they bundled everything up neatly and pointed me towards a bank of desks where I had to wait about 20 minutes until my number was called. The senior clerk then checked the work of the interns, making additional computations in red on the form, and asked me to produce my passport and work contract.  Oops, no one told me I would need those. So, back home again, got the items and back to the tax office. Another short wait and, voila! My taxes are done and  I’m getting a refund. Yeah! Simple and sane. Wow, what a concept.

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…