Monday, January 28, 2008

2008-01-28 SARS Client Being Helped

I sketched the lineart for this pic in my li'l black Moleskine while sitting with Jennifer in a long queue.

We were at the South African Revenue Service -- SARS -- trying to sort out the fact that my tax profile had been hijacked by my ex-tax accountant, Debbie Duckworth.

The dude pictured was sitting at one of the booths, and the tax consultant was busy finding some documents for him.

When Jennifer and I got to our booth after about half an hour, we were helped by no fewer than three people simultaneously.

It was like one of those surgical emergencies where one team is working on the vascular system, another on the heart, and another fixing broken bones.

If you're ever at the Randburg SARS office getting help, I strongly recommend seeing Sibongile, Chester, or Tshidi. Or all three at once.

The upshot of all of this is that I phoned Debbie Duckworth, my ex-tax accountant, from someone else's cellphone. I had to do this because she was simply ignoring all of my phonecalls, and has been doing so since last year.

She didn't answer, so I left this message, with Sibongile amd Tshidi and Jennifer as my witnesses:

'Hi Debbie. This is Roy Blumenthal. It's approximately 5pm on Monday the 28th of January. I'm with a SARS official right now, and I'm letting you know that they're asking you to release my tax details from your profile.'

I handed the phone to Sibongile, who confirmed this.

I then took the phone and continued:

'I've had enough of the trouble you've caused for me, and earlier this afternoon I called the SARS Anti-Corruption Hotline, and they have indicated that they'll be investigating you. Please release my profile and let me get on with filing my tax return. Thanks.'

Seconds after I put the phone down and handed it back, it rang. It was Debbie.

'Hi Debbie,' I said, putting it on speakerphone.

She said, 'Hullo. Who am I speaking to?'

'It's Roy Blumenthal. Please can you sort out my tax profile situation.'

'What? Roy Blumenthal? Uh... I'll call you back later.'


The SARS people shook their heads sagely.

A little later, when they were trying to free my name from Debbie's profile, Sibongile asked me to try and call again, to see if Debbie would give them some information.

So I called from my phone. On speakerphone. In front of witnesses.

Debbie said, 'How dare you keep calling me! This is bordering on harassment! I've released your name!'

'Actually,' I said, 'you didn't. You simply deactivated my name, but kept it attached to your profile.'

'You're a psycho! Quite frankly, you're horrible! A psycho! All of the people at C_____t say so! You're a psycho. And you can have me investigated as much as you want, you're just a psycho!'

The 'people' at C_____t might very well have called me a psycho. Who knows? Maybe I AM a psycho. But what on earth has that got to do with my tax profile? (The people from C_____t include an ex-girlfriend of mine, and her buddy. Debbie is their accountant now.)

I said, 'Thanks Debbie. I'll say cheers now.'

And that should have been the end of that, cos Sibongile managed to liberate my profile, and it's now with its rightful owner -- me.

Which brings us up to tonight. My phone rings.

A guy's voice with a stiff Afrikaans accent says, 'Hello. Is this Roy Blumenthal? I'm Frik Botha, Debbie Duckworth's fiancee. I believe you're threatening her.'

'I'm not threatening her,' I say. 'And I'd appreciate it if you don't phone me.'

He kept telling me about how he would 'advise' me not to threaten his fiancee.

And I told him, 'Frik, please don't phone me again, or else I'll be seeking an injunction against you.'

So he carried on shouting into his phone.

I said, 'Thanks Frik. Please don't call again. Bye.'

He said, 'Don't you--'

Click. I put the phone down.

It rang again. And he threatened me some more. And I asked him politely not to call me again. And put the phone down.

All of which makes me think, 'What on EARTH is Debbie Duckworth doing all this for? I was the tiniest of all possible clients, with very straightforward books. And all she had to do was release my damn profile.

Instead, she's escalated this into a fullblown investigation. Not of me, but of HER!

Which is crazy. Cos if she's been lying to any of her clients the way she lied to me, then she's got stuff to hide. Which means she's got something to lose.

I've got nothing to lose. I'm just a crazy freelancer with a web presence.

I scanned the Moleskine sketch, and popped it into Photoshop CS2, where I spent way too long playing with colours and textures, and enjoying myself tremendously while Debbie and Frik seethed somewhere in suburban bliss in Helderkruin, Krugersdorp. And yeah... I believe the Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc IS tax deductable.


  1. I was told the worst people to deal with were editors and lawyers. Now I will add tax consultants! Well, I am glad they sorted you out and, indeed, thanks to SARS, I also love filing my tax returns! I would think they are one of the most efficient and courteous publicly owned organizations in the world! Now that should cheer us all up, in these days of eskom darkness, Kenyan mayhem and else.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Thomas.

    My experience with editors has been universally good. Who would say they're horrible to deal with???

    On what grounds?

    Lawyers... hmmm... I know a few, and they're pretty cool people (the ones I know). Apart from Jennifer's ex lawyer. Apparently many of her clients have fired her, and asked for audits of their accounts, and been given refunds.

    This particular tax 'consultant' has definitely got some sort of chip on her shoulder.

    Weird that she's calling me psychotic, when that's got nothing to do with the issue at hand... namely, my missing tax return, and her trying to prevent me from eFiling. Crazy chick.

    Ah well.

    Hope groovy things are happening for you.

    Blue skies

  3. Just an editor story. An aspiring writer sends his manuscript. After a few months, he inquires. "Yes, we are reading it." A year later, "don't worry, it can take so long, someone is reading it". After nearly two years, they send it back to him on his request: nobody ever opened it!


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