Bureaucracy Will Be The Death of Me

Leaving Hong Kong is not so simple. Yes, I am moving home to the States, but there is still a ton to do! I need to terminate my phone and television and internet contracts, close out my utilities account, ship boxes home, get my pension money out of the HK system, and most of all: pay my final tax bill.

Taxes in Hong Kong are not withdrawn from your monthly paycheck- you pay them in a lump sum at the end of the year. It's a weird system that I've never totally figured out, where they charge you somewhat for the upcoming year as well. Although I am leaving in June, I need to first pay taxes on all of my income through August in order to submit of a 'letter of release' from the Inland Revenue Department to my employer, so that my employer can release my last few paychecks and pension holdings. Got it? Right.

The imposing government building everyone needs to visit in order to leave Hong Kong

Sorting out stuff like this is actually pretty straight forward in Hong Kong- I've always found renewing my work visa to be easy as well. It's gotta be the only country on Earth where bureaucracy just makes sense. Clear directions are posted online, meetings and appointments are done a timely manner, and paperwork is rather straightforward.

I dressed all professional when visiting Revenue Tower so they would take me more seriously

Despite being relatively easy, it still is the government we are dealing with. So when I recently went to Revenue Tower to file taxes for the final time, it went something like this:

  1. Go to the inquiry counter, which directs you to the 27th floor
  2. Take the elevator to the 38th floor to switch to the elevator that goes to the 27th floor
  3. File papers and wait 15 minutes for them to be processed
  4. Do a face to face review of your tax papers
  5. Receive a letter in the mail a week later with your tax bill
  6. Visit 4 different HSBCs trying to take out cash to pay tax bill
  7. Go to downtown post office to pay said tax bill
  8. Take receipt from post office to a different floor in Revenue Tower
  9. Trade receipt for a letter of release
  10. Send letter of release to your employer
  11. Get paid!

Literal interrogation rooms at the tax office

Nothing here too crazy or complicated, and yet it took two full mornings running around the Wan Chai neighborhood with a backpack full of cash to sort it all out. This was only one step of the process as well. Having my taxes taken care of is a big relief, though. Now I can focus on the fun stuff like getting my apartment deposit back and arranging for mattress removal. Oh, joy.

Torture Claims Appeal Board- is this for after the tax people torture you with technical language that goes over your head?


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