Friday, November 9, 2012

The Israeli Tax System and the Dark Arts

Shalom, chaverim! Well, after all the build-up, excitement, and preparatory skirt-purchasing for the new teaching job I was hoping to get, I have yet again been firmly placed in bureaucratic limbo. I did a sample lesson last Sunday morning, which was observed by the Principal and the head of the English department. It seemed to go well, and I was thrilled to receive a call that night, informing me that I'd gotten the job. I was to start teaching last Tuesday. Whoo hoo!

Here's the kicker, though. On Monday, I received another call from the school, saying that a particular form had to be filled out and sent to the Ministry of Education to get final approval for me to teach there. That process was only supposed to take a day or two. It's now Friday morning and I've heard nothing. Sigh. The weeks go on, and it seems that it takes forever for straightforward things to get done.

I have to take some responsibility in this, though. If I had started getting my degrees recognized the minute I got to Israel, just as EVERYONE told me to do, I might be further ahead in this process. But I did get them recognized, and ultimately a job was offered to me, so now it's on the Ministry to turn this puppy around quickly. Israeli ninth-grade girls are in desperate need of reviewing the correct usage of "since" and "for" in the present perfect continuous tense! Why isn't there a national sense of urgency about this pressing need?

Another little glitch we encountered in the labyrinth known as the Israeli tax system meant that, after a month's work in our new voiceover/narration jobs, the fact that we already were on the books for other jobs meant that our paychecks were taxed at the nose-bleedingly high rate of 60%. The intricacies of doing multiple and part-time jobs in Israel means you really need a professional working with you from the get-go to keep it all straight. You will need their help to fill in the tax forms correctly, file arcane forms in mysterious offices, and be ultimately be taxed at the correct rate. After speaking with our accountant yesterday, it appears that we will only be eligible for a certain piece of paper that will remedy this situation when we've been resident in Nahariya for a full year. In our case, that will be on December 28th. Once the form is provided to the tax ministry, we will be given a June or July of 2013. The dark art of working within the Israeli tax system is something that mere novices, such as ourselves and other new olim, should leave to a voodoo practitioner--er, accountant--who can counteract the spells.

The new immigrant gets the pin in the eye for not reading the tax form correctly. The pin in the knee is for not bowing  deeply enough in supplication to the tax authority deities. And the one in the heart is just...because. Thanks to for the image!

However, in happier news, I'm still having a blast teaching English for the Indian company I work for. In that job, I teach English online to Indians who want to improve their English, usually to enhance their career skills. Since many of my lessons are designed to improve the students' general conversation abilities, I've had to bone up on contemporary Indian culture in order to find common ground that students will feel comfortable in discussing.

Luckily, our satellite television package gives us access to an Indian channel operating out of Singapore. I'm able, if I want to, to watch Bollywood movies and Indian soap operas twenty-four hours a day. Some of the English used, though, just strikes me as being incredibly funny. My favorite ad, for example, is for a company that sells TV dinners, which are known as "ready meals." The company's name is "Git," which in British English is slang for an extremely stupid and annoying person.

The tag line for the ad is this: "Git's Ready Meals: Lingers On Your Fingers!"

Bon appetit and shabbat shalom, chaverim!

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