Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tax Crones

Each year as the days wind down toward the last of December, the awful spectre of dollar bills flapping goodbye and winging their way south begins to play across the mind. Nothing to do with the familiar and customary expenses of Christmas and the buying of gifts to give to close hearts, but related instead to one of the two things often described as inescapable—taxes. Year end for these past eleven years has been the season for paying property taxes. Surely some, maybe many hold off payment until the end of March, but the lower rate for a December payment seems less shocking to the bank account. Living twenty-five yards off the beach in Florida is not conducive to low property taxes, and each year the handover of big bills comes with the violence of a hand grenade detonated in the next room.

Forget computers and techno-assisted accountants in fluorescent-lit cubicles tallying up tax numbers on multi-gigabyte adding machines. My imagination paints a more sinister picture, of sharp nosed, thin lipped crones dressed in black, and with ink smudged fingers working their numbers into an instrument of financial destruction aimed at my bank and belly. And when their calculations reach a horrid but satisfying degree of property owner punishment, cruel chortles shake the narrow space of their dark counting house and an ominous fume fills the air.

No, really, there’s a friendly smile on the face of the young woman who takes my check at the county financial office downtown. She’s fast, efficient and perfectly agreeable, making the large tax bill a tiny bit easier to swallow. How painless can it be when the spelled out dollar amount is too large to fit comfortably on the second line of your check?

Interesting mishap on the mailing of my tax bill this year. In previous years the bill always arrived in the Tokyo mailbox no later than the end of October, or earlier. It suddenly occurred to me last Friday that the tax bill had not come, and the fault very probably my own. In moving from Japan to Florida it is helpful to give a change of address to pertinent agencies—if you can remember to do it. Mentioning my forgetfulness to the county clerk, she said, “Here’s the mailing address we have for you,” showing me a form that read:


KU TOKYO 1680082


Relieved that the fault was not all mine, I pointed out that the second line of that address is an odd and meaningless non sequitur and may have confused the post office. No harm done in the end, since the taxes got paid on time, including an address correction.

Good feeling knowing that I can forget about the cruel counting house crones for another twelve months.

1 comment:

  1. Come on, you know that "friendly smile on the face of the young woman" at the tax office immediately changed to a face like one of the crones around the cauldron in Macbeth, a hex flinging, crop blighting, toad fancying enchantress. Instead of the emptying out of your soul, it was your wallet. Of course she was agreeable while collecting the needed lifeblood of the community. It's just tough on the "donors."


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America