When your shifts are so long that it feels like you live at work, you come home to some strange surprises sometimes.

Like the whole ham on the bone that is currently in our refrigerator. I’m guessing that this is some kind of Christmas gift from my husband’s workplace, which is nice and extraordinarily generous. He was sound asleep when I got home, and will be back at work before I get up in the morning, so I can’t ask him. I like ham, but we are also just two adults and a small selection of cats, so being confronted with 20 lbs of salted meat is somewhat more than we can handle. I’m thinking that we might donate it to a charity that could actually make use of it.

The other fun surprise was a letter from the Inland Revenue Department saying that (since I haven’t filed my tax return) they’ve decided that I owe them $3329.89. I haven’t filed a tax return because when you work for a salary in New Zealand you don’t need to file a tax return. I didn’t file a return last year either, but I did file one the year before because I was self-employed. Exactly how the IRD have determined that I owe them $3329.89 is unclear… Well, actually no, it’s perfectly clear because it’s happened before. They decide that since I used to be self-employed, I must still be self-employed, and then they invent some imaginary income for me and tax me on it. And then I have a bunch of 1-hour phone calls ahead of me where I have to explain to bored clerical staff that I didn’t actually earn any of this imaginary income and I don’t owe them anything. And then they fine me for not filing a tax return anyway. Just because.

Perhaps the most galling part of this is that when I log into their website it almost always says that my income tax is in credit, since they owe me a refund from 2004 but refuse to pay it to me because it’s more than 10 years old and they reckon they sent me a letter in 2004. They apparently sent the letter to a house I hadn’t lived in since 2002, but that’s by the by. I still don’t understand the logic of how you can’t get money that the tax department owe you because it’s “too old” and yet the tax department can arbitrarily decide that you owe them money based on no evidence at all.

But all of this will have to wait until Monday or Tuesday before I can deal with it, because I have events on and work always takes priority. Hopefully tomorrow brings no more surprises.


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