Thursday, 23 September 2010

Comparison on how to pay a tax in Romania vs UK

How to pay a tax in Romania...

22/09/2010 14:00
A while ago I got a letter from the court stating that I have to pay them. However there’s no mention on where to pay it so I went to ask where I should pay it. The answer appears to be simple: Post Office or Tax Office.

I arrive at the post office and find out that I have to complete a form by hand. I’m asking the clerk if there is any commission to pay but she ignores me. I figure out that the quickest way would be just to complete the form and I’ll see from there.
The form contains the sender’s and receiver’s address twice, has nowhere near enough space to write the whole address and the space allocated for the bank account is 2cm wide and some bright mind gave this format to the accounts: RO44TREZ70220330108XXXXX. According to the model I need to overwrite printed text so I complete everything quickly and I return happy and confident at the office. As there is just one person in the queue, I am happy that I won’t have to wait for long. At this point I am quite amazed how every store is so empty compared to the UK and the extra paperwork I find here won’t matter and everything will go quickly. I’ll be back at the court in no time, finish this task and I can continue my other tasks as planned.
The customer in front of me has to pay the electricity bill; Do not be amazed, in Romania, the people still have to get out of the house every month for every bill they have to pay and walk or drive somewhere to pay it. I quickly calculate that this would take an average of 1-2 working days / month for each paying citizen…
10 minutes later, the lady finishes with the customer in front of me and I smile happily at her, waiting to be greeted. The clerk continues to stare at her computer for an extra 2-3 minutes. Finally, she raises her eyes and give me a very friendly “what do you want?”
I give her the completed form, she starts to read it for a while which turns into minutes… It appears that “unfortunately” I have to complete the form all over again as I have an extra space in the spelling of the amount that I have to pay. Yes, I had to write the amount in numbers and letters too.
While I go back to complete another form at the desk the queue starts piling up. I calculate that the 5 people that just arrived would take her at least 50 minutes and I start to lose my patience. I figure out that I made a mistake on the 2nd form so I start writing the 3rd form. On this one I do my best to write it correctly. While reviewing it I see that there’s a field that I’ve missed so I quickly write the amount in letters as this one is exactly as the other one. However, it appears that I had to write the amount in numbers in here so I start writing the 4th form.
The 4th one is correct so I return to the office and as I don’t have the patience as yesterday, I ask her if I really need to queue again. Fortunately I do not, so she handles me next. She informs me that I have to pay 1.1% commission, which is more than the commission of sending 20000GBP from UK to China.
As I’m accustomed from UK with paying no commission to the banks and also do not agree with the idea of a commissioner to charge a percentage in order to cross the street with the money, I give up and go home.
So one hour and a half later I have accomplished nothing.

Next day - 23/09/2010
I got the idea of just going to the place where the account is open to deposit the money. This works worldwide so it has to work here. However, I have the fortunate idea of calling the branch where the account is opened and they inform me that they only deal with companies and no cash. Therefore I decide to go to the last available option, the Tax Office.
My father informs me that there are more bureaus and he gives me the address where he pays the taxes.
Once at the tax office I go to the information desk where there’s a gay clerk. Obviously he cannot help me in any way. He sends me to pay at post office and I wonder why they have even have an office. After I tell him that the commission for sending money at the post office is unacceptable and I am not willing to pay for it, he informs me that I should go to the accounting department at the headquarters, 4-5km away.

I arrive at the headquarters for the Tax Office where they kindly inform me that I have to go to the Post Office. After I’ve explained what happened yesterday they tell me that the Post Office staff are incompetent and they should have informed me to use a different service. They give me a stamped and signed paper with instructions for the Post Office and off I go.

Back at the post office and armed with the new instructions, they finally decide that they indeed have a way of not overcharging me (!) but it is impossible to pay as the computer does not want to accept the payment. After I insist the clerk calls the supervisor and she discovers that she should have uncheck the box which says "fine" and everything goes smoothly. I pay and go happy to the court.

I arrive at the court where they accept my payment and tell me that in order to make sure that I won’t be charged again, I should go to the tax office and prove them that I've paid.
Back to the Tax Office’s Headquarters: I show them the paper and this time they look me up in the computer. As they can't find that I need to pay this tax they assume that the request from the court has not yet arrived. However, they advise me that I should go to “Fiscal Office” and check if I owe anything else to the government. At this point I figure out that there is another, different, institution in this county that does exactly the same thing. We have so far Tax Office and Fiscal Office, none having access to the other’s database, both with the attributions to get money from the people for exactly the same thing.
Anyway, as I am the Tax Office, the clerk is so kind to inform me that I have 2 fines to pay and my mother has some taxes to be paid. Lucky me, there’s no data protection act here or I should have carried my mother here to find out what these taxes are. They print the list and advise me to pay it promptly.

At the Fiscal Office, It appears that I can be found in their database. Happily I give them the proof of payment in order to clear everything out. To my surprise they inform me that I shouldn't have paid at the Post Office. They rush me to get my money back or I’ll lose them.

At the post office they inform me that unfortunately the clerk went home and it is not possible to get my money back. They complain that the clerk should come back from other part of the city... However, after I insist a while they find a way to get my money back.
I sign the papers that I got the money back and leave them my phone numbers just in case they can think of something else I need to sign.

I pay everything at the Fiscal Office. I think that I have to get back to the court and inform them that I've moved the money to the right place. Also I should go back to the Tax Office and inform them the same.

I get back home and tell my father that I and my mother have some fines & taxes to pay. I show him the print and we figure out that these taxes are already paid but he did not inform the Tax Office. Maybe I should do that too…

How to pay a tax in UK...

Debit Card/Direct Debit. It takes 5 minutes.

- The beneficiary (the court) gave me 2 solutions, both wrong. However if you don't pay it in the right place you get sued.
- The Post Office made me complete a form 4 times (while they could have done that on the computer) just to find out that this could be avoided.
- The Tax Office gave me the wrong account as they did not bother to check in the first place.
- The Post Office were about not to serve me as they can't use a computer.
- The payer has to tell the beneficiary and 2 other institutions that he/she paid somewhere else for them.
- I had to drive 100km to pay one tax.

... and the Romanians wonder why their country does not work!

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