Thursday, June 05, 2008
Sometimes, it's not the government's fault
I took a leave yesterday to get my Community Tax Certificate and Professional Tax Receipt from the Quezon City Hall. Today, I hope to file my consolidated income tax return with B. The BIR still has not issued his W2 which is supposed to be attached to the return - I hope we can get his W2 today as our return is already terribly late!
I was dreading the trip to the City Hall as I was imagining that I'd be lining up for hours in a dusty, damp and smelly office. I even bribed B with a free movie so that he would accompany me. I shouldn't have worried! It only took a few minutes to line up for the Community Tax Certificate, and the line was in an airy and clean-enough corridor with no offensive odors.
Getting the Professional Tax Receipt was a different story - I was second in line to a frustrating taxpayer. Yup, the taxpayer was the one who was frustrating. From what I can understand of their conversation, the taxpayer paid some fees and wanted a local government stamp on her documents. The government official was patiently explaining that the stamp should be made on the 3 copies of the original forms, which could not be done since the taxpayer only brought 1 photocopy. The taxpayer kept on insisting that the stamp be made on the photocopy as that was what her boss asked her to do. Never losing her smile, the government official said that the government office to which the taxpayer was required to submit the forms would not accept photocopies and would definitely look for the stamp in the original forms which were colored pink, yellow and blue. After 10 minutes, the government official just stamped the photocopy with a warning that the said stamp was useless on a photocopy. What was worse was that when the taxpayer left, she even mumbled, "Hirap talaga kausapin ng gobyerno!"
I was just amazed at: (a) the patience of the government employee - I was ready to strangle the taxpayer on the 5th minute but she didn't even flinch when he heard the taxpaer's remark; and (b) how I was so engrossed with what was happening that I couldn't even remember the physical conditions of the room; and (c) how good I was at eavesdropping!
When I got my Professional Tax Receipt (it only took the government employee 3 minutes to issue it!), I told B about the taxpayer and asked him if he encountered people like her. He said that he's used to taxpayers who get hysterical when they didn't get what they want even if they failed to meet the requirements. Sometimes, they even accused him of not doing his job when it was part of his job to ensure that the proper documents were submitted and that all requirements were met before they issue rulings.
On our way home, the cab driver kept on blaming the government for the rising gas prices. B explained that the Philippines was not the only country which was experiencing an increase in gas prices. The cab driver then started blaming the government for the tuberculosis that several cab drivers were suffering which he believed were caused by the fumes from the converted LPG engines of some taxis.
I guess it really is just easy for people to keep on blaming all their problems to the government, and sometimes, the underpaid government officials are the ones suffering for it. Our government is far from perfect but we also have to make sure that we do what is expected of us. I guess we also have to remember to treat government employees with respect even if some of them really deserve to have all their eyebrows plucked for being so lazy and/or corrupt!
Now that I think about it, I should have told the taxpayer in front of me that this time, the government was not at fault. She'd probably be irritated with me but at least the government official at the Taxes and Fees Division would know that somehow, her efforts were appreciated.