Friday, May 29, 2009

Last Post

There are some French customs I will never understand.
Among those that come round once a year, one comes round today.

French income tax is a self-assessment affair.
Everybody has to submit their declaration of income for each calendar year (Jan-Dec) by some deadline the following May.
Actually, if you do it on-line you get several more weeks, but that's for wimps like me.

For real hard-line paper-format submitters, the deadline is today.
In fact it's midnight tonight, to be exact.
As judged by the postmark on the envelope.

Now my reaction to that, in the days before internet, was to make sure I posted mine weeks before the deadline.
To avoid any trouble, like having to pay a penalty for lateness.
In fact, as the tax office was on my route to work, I decided to deliver it by hand, avoiding both the risk & the cost of the postal service.

But thousands of full-strength Frenchmen see it as a matter of honour, to post their tax declaration at the last possible minute, or even second.
Tonight, they will be driving specially to main post offices & milling around on the pavement to post their envelope at 23:59:59 or as near as possible.

Funnily enough, we never hear of anybody being penalized for getting 00:00:01 on their postmark, or even 00:10:00, so the tax authorities must have decided not to be as stupid as their brinkmanship-addicted customers.

Of all the ways I can imagine of showing disapproval of government, this is about the silliest.

Parting thot: "A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right." - Anon

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