Mag-BIR ka muna
The day of reckonning has finally come; the day that has been in our collective psyche since December; the day that had our full attention and energies since March. The deadline for Income Tax Reporting has finally arrived, and the months of audit will finally come to a close.
But the heavens decided we are not yet stressed enough and thus made online reporting impossible.
I have four tax reports due on April 15, the first was for the annual income tax, the three others are for monthly withholding taxes. With the BIR's IT department being so considerate as to implement updates on their website on the busiest tax reporting date in the year, we have no choice but to file our taxes manually. This involves going to the accredited agent banks of the Regional District Offices (RDO) to pay, and for zero-payment reports, to go to the RDO itself to have the forms received. This further means that I have to go from our Makati office all the way to Rizal to file and pay for my tax reports. It also means that we have to rush everything to have the checks printed and signed, something that online payments no longer require.
Reports and checks on hand, I commute from Makati all the way to Cainta, where the agent bank is located. Riding a taxi is not an option, for it would take a miracle to find a driver who would be willing to drive me all the way to that place. Besides, the traffic is monstrous, and if ever I get a driver to take me there, I might arrive at the place too late. The fastest means is by train: MRT to Cubao, and LRT2 to Santolan; and a jeepney ride to Sta Lucia, all done under the heat of the unforgiving April sun.
I arrive at the bank by 2pm and am delighted to see that the queue is comparatively short. I made a beeline to the writing desks where I will fill up the BIR payment forms needed to pay for my taxes, but there are none in the desk. I ask the guard about it, and I was directed to the New Accounts desk for my querries.
Me: Hi ma'am, I'm here to pay my taxes, where are the payment forms?
Teller: Sorry sir, but we can no longer accept payments, as we already ran out of forms.
Me: What do you mean, you wont accept payments just because you don't have the forms?
Teller: You can go to other agent banks, if you like, sir.
Me: That can't be, as the check was drawn to this bank.
Teller: Why don't you have the check's payee changed?
Me: That is not humanly possible, as the signatories are in Makati.
Teller: Well, it's not my fault that the checks were drawn to this bank.
Me: It's not my fault either that BIR decided to go off-line and issued this memorandum (shows her copy of memorandum) that I go and pay manually.
Teller: Sir, had it been a cash payment, I can do something about it, but this is a check, sir, and we have a 12nn cut-off on BIR payments.
Me: But the BIR also issued a memorandum that all agent banks are to accept any forms of payment until 5pm today. Why don't you just issue me a written letter stating that you wont accept my payment because you ran out of forms, then I can go to the BIR to have my forms received, then I pay tomorrow. Hopefully, you have the forms by then.
Teller: Wait sir, I'll ask the manager.
(walks out of her desk and goes to the manager. I can hear the manager bellowing at her about unintelligible things. It's been a long day, and my eavesdropping skills weren't working. After 15 minutes, she goes back)
Teller: Sorry sir, we don't issue letters like that.
Me: (Thinking of my other forms for submission to the RDO) Then I will just go to the BIR and ask them about this.
From Cainta, I then head to Taytay, where the RDO is located. Two of the four reports I have with me were zero-filing reports, and I had an easy time having those received. I asked the person who received my forms as to whom I should talk to regarding my payments, and I was directed to the Head of Collections.
Head of Collections told me things I already knew: That their office is not allowed to accept my payment, and that I should go to the bank to pay them; that the banks were ordered to accept payments til 5pm, and that they are not allowed to refuse anyone still in the vicinity after 5pm; and some other stuff I care not to think about now. Alloyed with their information nonetheless, I head back to Cainta to force the bank to accept my payments, reaching the place past 4pm. To my surprise and mounting incredulity, the bank has already closed for the day!
I need to rest and reassess my battle plan, so I headed to the store I am accounting for and called the Head of Collections about agent bank's early closing. Upon her instructions, I drafted a letter request for manual filing of reports, and added a request for extension of payment. I also asked my manager to prepare a "food offering" that I will give Head of Collections for helping me with my tax reports. While waiting for my bribe, we were discussing month-end reporting stuff and other things, while eating the clubhouse sandwich and spicy new orleans pasta served at my table (the perks of working for a resto business). My body rested and my hunger sated, I go back to Taytay to have my forms, and the letter I drafted, signed and received by the RDO. Finally, after a tiring day/week/month, I am able to relax, my forms having been received by 7pm. Afterward, I went back to the store and turned the checks over to the manager, for payment on agent back the next day.
The Next Day: Mag-BIR ka ulit
Manager: ShatterShards, what do I do with the checks?
Me: Have someone go to the bank to pay it, and show them the letter received by the BIR attached to the forms.
Manager (after 15 minutes): They didn't accept the checks. They don't have payment forms.
Me: WTF! I'll call the bank.
So begins the redux of the circus I hurdled just the day before.
I seem to have all the luck, as all other stores have managed to file and pay their tax reports without even half of the hassles I have experienced. The first I tried to call was the RDO, to report on agent bank's alarming lack of payment forms. Unfortunately, all office lines are already busy, or disconnected, because it was already 11am, and lunchtime is sacred. I have no other recourse but to talk to the bank.
Operator: Hello, welcome to agent bank, how may I help you?
Me: Hello, I'm ShatterShards, I was there yesterday to pay for my taxes, but you didn't have payment forms. I sent a person there earlier to pay, but our payment was still not received for you still don't have payment forms.
Operator: Umm... wait sir, I'll have someone to talk to you about your querry.
Me: Yes, please.
(after 5 minutes of dead air)
Accountant: Hello sir, this is V, I'm the bank's accountant.
Me: Hello, as I was saying earlier, I sent someone to pay my taxes there but the tellers refuse to accept the payments because you lack forms.
Accountant: Yes, sir, we can't accept payments without the proper forms. Why don't you just change the check's payee and pay on another bank.
Me: That is not physically possible, as I'm here in Makati, and the check is there in Cainta. When will the payment forms arrive?
Accountant: Maybe later in the day, sir. All forms come from the Head Office, and we're still waiting for delivery.
Me: I have a 12nn deadline with the BIR. Why don't you just accept my payments, stamp it received as of 12nn, and process it when the forms arrive?
Accountant: We can't do that, sir, or we might incur penalties.
Me: Well, I will not accept penalties over that one either. You did not accept it yesterday when I was within the deadline, and I had to request for an extension of payment just to have it processed today. I am well within your bank's cut-off, so it shouldn't be my fault if my payments are processed late. I should have reported you to the RDO, but unfortunately, I can't right now, for it's already lunchtime for them, and all lines have been disconnected.
Accountant: Sir, can I call the Head Office first, so I can ask permission for your transaction?
Me: Okay. I'll call them myself as well.
Accountant: Okay sir, please call back in 15 minutes.
It's not even 12, and my head is already throbbing like mad. I can feel my blood rushing to my head, and my back and shoulders are acting up as well. Stress. Pure, unadulterated stress. The stuff I eat for lunch almost on a daily basis since March. Calling agent bank's head office did did not help me much at all, although they did state that BIR was already online once again, and they suggested that I try to pay online, to which I refused, because the online facility will definitely charge me penalties for late filing. I did try accessing online, just to placate myself that I did everything humanly possible, only to find out that the online facility still isn't working properly. After 15 minutes, I called agent bank again.
Operator: Hello, welcome to agent bank, how may I help you?
Me: Ms V, please.
Operator: Wait sir.
Me: Ms V, this is ShatterShards, how are my transactions doing?
Accountant: I've cleared it with Head Office, sir, you can send the checks for payment.
Me: Good. I'll have someone come over to give you the checks. Thank you.
A rush of relief flowed through me, washing away the weight forming at the base of my spine. I felt my adrenaline crash, leaving me tired and a bit drowsy. Finally, my tax reports are done. I can now continue with my monthend and quarter-end reports.
I have long expected this award. I knew I will get one, as early as the 2nd week of March. I knew it was just a matter of time before they hand it to me.
Position: Corporate Slave
Company Policy Violated: Tardiness Policy
Details of incident as sited:
As per attendance report, it was observed that you incurred thirteen (13) lates for the month of March.
In line with this, you are given VERBAL WARNING. You are reminded by the Company to do necessary improvements on your part so as not to reapeat the same offense you have comitted. Repetition of such violation shall mean a higher degree of penalty.
This is the second award for tardiness I received this year, the first, I got last January. The next award would come with a 1-day vacation, I mean suspension.
The Great Place I work for decided to repeal our 15-minute grace period last year. This means that the cut-off time is 9.00am. If you log in at 9.01, you are already considered late. Of the 13 instances cited, 9 falls within the grace period, which means that, had the grace still been in effect, I wouldn't have had received an award for March. But that is crying over spilled milk. I used to never even bother with the grace period; I was almost never late. I still wake up at 7am like clockwork (at times, much earlier), regardless of when I slept the night before, but I have problems getting up in the morning. The time I'm spending forcing myself to get up out of bed is growing longer by the day. If not for the fact that my house is just 15 minutes leisurely walk away from the office, my list of tardiness might have been longer.
I haven't yet counted my tardiness for April, but I'm suspecting that I'm getting an award again this time.