Salvation Lies Within
Irena sighed as she peered out at the black sky. Her energy drink slowly swished around as a wisp of smoke ascended. She had the tax guide open on her desk, but the guide that helped her solve countless problems couldn’t resolve the one echoing in her mind.
“Your first day not go well? That’s normal. Rarely does any tax officer’s first job go smoothly. If we could collect the taxes, there’d be no need for us to go out. Lots of rookie tax officers can’t handle the lying and unscrupulous scums. Some tax officers end up so mad that they get physical.” Sulina patted the Irena on the shoulder.
Sulina’s comfort didn’t help Irena relax. If anything, it was Sulina who was part of her dilemma. Sulina told her not to mind other’s reasons; however, she didn’t understanding the significance of the reason. Irena questioned what she needed to do to not violate her duties while still helping the pitiful girl.
“We are tax officers. While knowing their reasons is not a reason for us to waive their taxes, it does allow us to make appropriate calculations to determine how much they need to pay. We are tax officers. Therefore, we must collect their taxes regardless of how pitiful they may be. We must do our duty justice. Nevertheless, we are still human. We cannot be indifferent to genuinely pitiful people. I had you understand the reason so that you wouldn’t be miserable.
“Truth be told, Lord Lin left us with many gems. It’s on you whether or not you can dig them up. When you try to confiscate their stuff, men will look hopeless, yet angry. You’ll see children in their mother’s embraces, trembling and scared. Women will cling to your leg and plead, but you can’t give in. You must steel your heart and take everything worth money. You must take their last shred of dignity and assets. Witnessing a family completely break down as you do that is what’s most painful for a tax officer.”
Sulina looked gloomy. Clearly, she had lived through those moments as a tax officer countless times.
Irena reclined in her chair and stared at the guide in front of her. The weather was warm, and she held a hot drink, yet Irena still shivered. She recalled the miserable look on the girl’s face one last time during the day. She wondered how she’d face the despair of someone sick when she had to confiscate their assets by force. She didn’t want to be someone stone cold. She couldn’t handle that sort of distressing scene, either. They weren’t her enemies; they were her people.
What would Lord Lin do in this situation? What would he think? He’s not that cold-hearted. He would have a way of dealing with this sort of family’s situation. It’s my turn to think now. What should I do?
Irena grabbed a sheet of paper and the file she was working on. She wanted to recalculate how much the household should’ve paid. In reality, she didn’t need to recalculate it for several tax officers had calculated it, ensuring the sum was correct.
Once she was done calculating, Irena set her pen down as despair took hold of her. She came to the same conclusion her predecessors did. Irena couldn’t change the sum or come up with a way to help the pitiful family. Her job was to collect taxes, but that didn’t mean she was supposed to ruin a family.
How can I fulfil my duty while still protecting the family? Tax officers aren’t demons. Unfortunately, protecting people isn’t within my duties. Lord Lin couldn’t have possibly overlooked this. How can I resolve this problem?
Irena maniacally flipped through the tax guide whilst scrubbing her head.
Sulina, pleased with Irena’s misery, gently ran her finger along a line: “Have you gone and asked when she fell ill?”
The one sentence was an epiphany for Irena. Irena turned her attention to Sulina then back to the file. The family’s reason for not paying their taxes was never recorded. The tax officers didn’t know that the family couldn’t pay taxes as the mother fell ill and was incapable of working. They worked under the assumption that they family was purely delaying her payments.
In the guide, it clearly explicated that those who couldn’t work due to illness or lost their source of income were exempt from taxes. As a matter of fact, they could file an application for reimbursement based on their previous workplace health insurance. To word it differently, if she fell ill two quarters ago, that meant the family didn’t need to pay taxes for those two quarters and were eligible for financial support.
Health insurance wasn’t paid out while you were hospitalised but after you were discharged and submitted an expenditure reimbursement application. Evidently the young girl of the family was uninformed about it, thus didn’t know she could submit such an application. Instead, she paid taxes she never needed to pay.
Irena jumped to her feet, but Sulina pushed her back into her seat. “Irena, calm your horses. I can understand how you feel, but it’s not work hours. A tax officer cannot meet with the individuals they are responsible outside of work hours; how about coming to work early tomorrow? Now, Your Highness, if you are so inclined, would you like to enjoy our favourite midnight snack?”
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