Death and taxes, though often said to be the only sure things in life, are not often a source of amusement. However, here is a funny story from one tourism business in Asia that had to pay their taxes the hard way.
Three years after opening their tourism business, the department of tourism finally created the proper paperwork for filing the tourism tax. In developing countries systems and processes are a work in progress. The company paid their other government taxes when due but with the tourism tax, they set aside money in the bank until the government processes were in place. Three years of taxes added up to approximately US$25,000.
Due to risk of corruption, the tax office required that the payment clear the account on the same day it was received. No money could be left in the account overnight. There was no guarantee that a check would clear or a wire transfer go through in the suitable amount of time prior to the end of a day’s work, so cold hard cash was the only acceptable form of payment.
On the morning of paying the tourism tax, the owners parked the company car in front of their bank and walked in with backpacks and duffle bags to make the withdrawal. Not knowing how much space US$25,000 in local currency would require, they tried to plan accordingly.
The maximum denomination of bill available at their bank was equivalent to a ten dollar bill and those were hard to come by. The counting began. After counting out approximately US$10,000 in local currency, the bank ran out of the ten dollar increment. The next bill added to the pile was the five dollar increment. Then after another $10,000 the bank ran out of the five dollar equivalent. That left the last approximately $5,000 to be withdrawn in $2.00 and $1.00 increments. Can you imagine? US$25,000 in increments of 10’s, 5’s, 2’s and 1’s?
It took a host of bank personnel 1 hour and 30 minutes to count all the money. By the end of the counting the bank staff realized they may have miscounted but the owners had no desire to do that over again and said they would use money out of their pockets to make up the difference upon payment to the tax office.
Their mammoth withdrawal of small denominations of bills filled every piece of luggage they brought in as well as several plastic grocery bags filled to the brim. They walked out with two thoughts. First, they realized how easily they could get robbed! And second, they realized how much they looked like bank robbers running off with the loot! They hustled to the car and then drove three blocks down the street to deliver the grand sum of money.
The bank where the tax office had their account took another 1 hour and 30 minutes to count the mounds of money. The owners added cash they already had on them to the stacks due to the miscounting at the first bank. Finally the correct amount of US$25,000 was accounted for and their bill was paid.
by Amy S
Amy is regular a guest contributor for The BAM Review.