Sunday, October 20, 2013

Car Wars, Episode III: The Tax Man

I'm sure you've all been waiting to find out what happened next in our car saga.

Well, wait no longer.

We are moving forward at the speed of.....matzo ball mix.

Last week was spent working with the insurance company to figure out our next step.  First of all, now that we knew that the car was officially "totaled" or as you say in Hebrew, "tohtall lohss," we had to think about what kind of car we wanted to buy. New? Used? Make? Model? Price?

We called friends and asked them what cars they had, did they like them, what did they pay, etc.  We wondered not HOW MUCH money the insurance company would give us, but HOW LONG it would take to get that money.

So we visited a Toyota dealer nearby and just as we were looking for something, Bern's phone rang.  It was the insurance company.  He was listening for a while, then his jaw dropped and he said, "You are kidding me."

Oh. no.

It seems, he told me, that the car appraiser that works with the insurance company was all ready to issue a check but found out that we had purchased the car with our aliyah rights.  That means our tax was different than it would be without using those rights.  Which means it didn't compute somehow - it made it look like we hadn't PAID our taxes and there was a lien on the car.

So NOW we had to GO to the Appraiser's office, pick up the appraisal report, and TAKE it to the Government Tax Office and have them verify the tax situation.  Yes, just two more annoying steps, Mr. and Mrs. Leibtag!  And then you're done!  Really!  We mean it this time!

So Bern went to pick up the appraisal form - unbelievably, the person recognized his name and just handed him the report, just like that!  And today was our day to go to the Tax Office with the appraisal form and get some document signed.

We get there.  There is no line!  Yay!  Some guy waves us into his office.  He does not smile.  He is a tough looking older dude who probably led some huge regiment during the Yom Kippur War.  We look through our papers and start to tell our story.  "Just give me the papers."  We give him the papers.  We are not messing with this guy.

He looks at the papers.  He says (are you sitting down?  If not, please do):  "This car is not totalled."

Our jaws are now dragging on the ground. I am seeing our future, going back to square one, fighting with the garage, with the insurance company, with the government, with Netanyahu.

"But...but....but....they told us it was officially totaled."  "No," he says, "see, here it says 54% not totaled."  We simultaneously put our heads in our hands and look like we're about to cry.

We think that got to him.  All of these gruff guys are softies underneath.  Suddenly he stops arguing with us and goes ahead and does his thing.  In 5 minutes we have our form and he is wishing us a good day, and even faxing the form over to the appraiser and calling the appraiser to tell him it's on its way.

Crisis averted - we think.  Although we are still terrified every time the phone rings that it will be some other office dropping another bit of bad news at our feet.

So, lesson learned - it pays to cry, or at least look like you're about to.  Remember that next time you are visiting the Ministry of Taxation.

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