Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Get Your Taxes Back in Korea

If, like me, you happen to be working at a school that has a somewhat lax regard for (following) rules and laws, then you might be put in the situation where it's May and you haven't received your Korean tax return. Which was supposed to come back to you in March.

Now I generally like to avoid doing anything remotely responsible or adult ever, so I realize this is highly out of character for me. But it just so happened that my school flat-out refused to pay one of my foreign coworkers and "forgot" to pay the rest of us on time this week, so I was in a real mood. A real responsible (read: vengeful) mood this Thursday, which we happened to have off (yay!) because my school doesn't want to give us the full week off in July we were promised (boo!).

So, I'm in a mood because of all this crap going on at work and I decide I'm going to stop complaining and start doing something about it. Thanks Mom. "Doing something about it," near as I could figure, meant going down to the tax office and filing paperwork and just generally having a miserable existence. But my desire to stick it to my boss hard outweighed my desire to not have a miserable existence, so there you go. Hence how all atrocities (i.e. child-rearing, exercise) are endured.

First, I found my district tax office online. Then after an almost ridiculous amount of googling, I found out it was pretty close. So I hopped on my bicycle to work off some of the highly glutinous rice taking up residence in my thighs and made my way to the tax office.

What greeted me when I arrived was perhaps the most depressing place of business I've ever encountered in Korea. Granted, I haven't had much cause to frequent many such places here, but I can most closely liken it with the DMV. Luckily, I'm a foreigner, so I didn't have to wait very long. Occasionally, this racism thing works in my favor.

After explaining my situation to the first person ("I need to check if I am owed or was paid taxes for 2012."), I was met with a chorus of blank stares. Then came the translation services--I bow at your almighty hand! I explained my situation--ish--to the person on the phone who then translated it to the person I was attempting to communicate with. Finally, I was taken to a filing room where I filled out a lot of paperwork with confusing math--"Cross your salary with this number--60.17--and then subtract it from your salary and then completely disregard that number and subtract 130,000 from 130,000." Yeah. Okay.

Eventually, I got the point that I'll receive 130,000 KRW in the mail...eventually. But I'm not sure what this money is from. It could be my tax return from 2012 or I could've accessed my pension fund early. Or it could be magic money, origins of which I am wholly unaware. All I know is--WOOO! FREE MONEY!

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