Published 2008-06-18 18:15:00

A friend of mine received a letter the other day from the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department (IRD), It was addressed to her company, and cc'ed to Her (at the bottom of the letter). The letter was titled "Notice For Recovery of Tax Under Section 76(1) of the Inland Revenue Ordinance."

Her first reaction was "This must be some kind of mistake", I'm not a boss/owner of this company, I guess they must be sending it out to all the employees.

Anyway, to help her out, I thought I'd phone up the IRD to find out why this letter arrived. It did not take long on the phone to realized that this letter was actually meant for her. So we did a little more reading of the letter. It turns out that it was a demand notice for.... wait for it....

"Notice 1" for Final Assessment for the year 1993-1994 in the sum of HK$309 (that's about US$40 or 20GBP)

To be honest I thought this was hilarious.. they had waited nearly 15 years to send out a first reminder to pay the amazing sum of HK$309.. Got to be one of the best examples of real government incompetence I've seen in a long while..

While it's not a huge issue in terms of finding the money (raid the piggy bank), I though it raised quite a few questions, some rather serious.

1) Why address demand letters to employers rather than employees?

2) Is this not over 6 years (the standard for Statue of limitations - or Hong Kong's equivalent legislation)

3) How are you supposed to challenge this? - I sent a cheque in 1993, it was cashed, you should have the payment? - nope, no human (except the IRD it seems) keeps records that long.

4) What if it had been a larger amount? one day you where happy with nice savings, looking to buy a house. Next you are wacked from nowhere and close to bankrupt with a huge bill from IRD, that you never knew about?

5) How many of these bills are there? - are all Hong Kongers going to be paying back-taxes for issues over 10 years ago? Will you get one every year?

6) Is this some kind of computer glitch?

7) Was someone pocketing the cash that long ago? and the system has only just been picking it up? Is there some kind of Superman fraud going on here....?

8) How on earth could they justify this? My friend has been paying tax every year for the last 15 years, so it's not like they did not have her address..

Oh well back to trusting our intelligent overlords..

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Overlords! crazy story ..
#0 - Demian Turner ( Link) on 2008-06-18 18:02:55 Delete Comment

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