After 4140[!] calls and 7 months later I’m finally done. I didn’t choose to stay so long but due to certain needs I had to drag myself awake at 6.30am everyday. Bar the usual bittersweet feelings that so many have felt, it was interesting engaging the taxpayers.
I have settled cases from paupers to princes and also a spectrum of professions-general workers to CEOs of renowned companies. Without revealing too much, incomes can range from zero to the millions. Taxpayers also come from all over the world–I have come across Senegalese, Venezuelans, Slovakians and Mongolians. One person even had no country attached to him! There are a plethora of scenarios as well-workers who have absconded, gotten into trouble and even passed away. I would say most calls are usually easy as they just want to check how much taxes are outstanding or whether we could expedite processing of cases. Yet like many of my colleagues we have our fair share of troublesome callers. There was an instance where a man demanded to speak to someone with a law degree for no apparent reason after we told him we couldn’t amend assessments for previous years. Most of the time these people tend to demand immediate attention. I have been left frustrated by some callers’ lack of comprehension even after explaining to them. Are they really so dense?! Usually, the employers or the finance department people will call in and more often that not they are middle-aged aunties. Sometimes, they are anxious/agitated because the worker has run away but all I could ask them to do was to file tax clearance.
At times, I have wondered how these people look like in real life. By hearing their voices, you could form a mental picture of the caller’s actions and feelings. Also, I have received calls from tax agents in the Big 4 companies. I had no ides that the Big 4 had tax consultancy services on top of accounting. Having manned the lines long enough, I have recognised certain numbers as belonging to tax agents eg. numbers starting with 6800 are from Deloitte, 6213 for KPMG, 6236 from PwC and 6718/6309 from EY. I have also seen EY tax agents calling from India, usually without any letter of authorization [bleh].
I’m not complaining about the knowledge I have gleaned from my stint. Filing taxes is actually quite simple and I learnt more about the reliefs available. I’m still unsure of the purpose of tax-on-tax calculations and filing of stock options gains and how it is done–they just go over my head. I hope there will not be a chance where I have to be nasty to the officer on the line since I feel their pain as well…having your KPI fall due to long calls is incredibly demoralising.
At times, I had to put up requests [work items] to advise the back-end staff to proceed. It ranged from expediting assessments to replying of emails/calls and there are actually different types of requests. I put up some 123 case refs, 56 ‘complex’ case callbacks [eg tax-on-tax and double taxation agreements], 106 enforcement actions and 5 memos for other matters.
For a country as small as SG, it sure has a lot of companies. They range from sole proprietors to large MNCs and even wholly foreign companies. Most frequently registration numbers are what we term ROC numbers, with the format yyyynnnnnA [year in front and letter at the back]. There are also UENO numbers [S/TyyAAnnnnA] which have a wide variety. Foreign coys have FC as the two middle alphabets, LLPs have LL, embassies have DP, clubs/associations have SS and even primary/secondary schools have GS. I was quite surprised when some schools were listed as limited companies–they must have a hell lot of assets. There are also this class of reg numbers called ASGD numbers [idk what it stands for though]. They are usually given to non-resident companies and individuals with the format AnnnnnnnB [always starts with A]. Yet I have seen the LKC School of Medicine being given this identity number too–it seems to be a placeholder identification.
Different formats of reg numbers
I wished some things could have ended better but then they were out of my control. I’m believe the taxation module in accountancy will be simple enough, I hope! It was good while it lasted but 7 months is way too long already.