Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is personal view of Spain and Spanish life as seen by a Briton living in a small village in Alicante province.
The other tabs link to similar blogs when I have lived in other places. The TIM magazine is an English language magazine I write articles for.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ho, ho! Sigh.

My draft tax declaration became available online the other day. Because I was self employed for a while in the 2015 tax year I'm going to need an accountant to sort it out but I'm putting off ringing him till my UK tax documentation turns up. Curiosity got the better of me though and I thought I would have a look at the online version to see what the tax office's initial assessment was. Rebate or more to pay?

On the first page, more or less in the first line, I noticed that my name was wrong. Although the effect on the printed form looks fine, which is presumably why I've missed it for the past ten years as have various tax offices and accountants, in fact the surnames and first names are mixed up. So they have my name as Jo and my surname as Christopher Thompson. The Jo is because, when I first registered at the Social Security, their database only had room for a forename fourteen characters long so the Christopher John had to be pruned. Heaven knows what Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso - that's Pablo Picasso to you and me - would have done. I quietly closed down the webpage. I'll let the accountant sort that out too.

The firm I work for sent me an email yesterday afternoon telling me that new legislation is coming into force which means that I will need to do something like the very first police record checks that we did in the UK. There is a pretty obvious question as to why anyone is allowed to work with children without being checked but we'll pass that by. The police, or in this case the Justice Ministry, will produce a form to say whether I have a criminal record or not. I asked my employer when this legislation would come into force. The end of the month was the reply. Good to get plenty of notice. Good that my employer is helping me with the process too.

I had a look online. Amazingly the process can be completed via the Internet. Even more amazingly I have an electronic signature which the Ministry site recognised. The form couldn't have been simpler: name and address type information, place of birth and bank payment details. I filled in the form and pushed send. Please fill in the phone number in the approved format it said. It took me four attempts to get that right. There was no suggested format but the international dialling code, with a plus, not two zeros, did the trick. This time it said that the information on my Foreigners Identification Number (NIE) form didn't match what I'd typed in. That's true because, as it turns out, the NIE, which I have used since 2005, is riddled with errors. It has me living in a street in Pinoso, instead of Culebrón, and the postcode is for Sax, a town about 30kms away. I won't bore you with the detail of the reason behind the particular errors but the underlying fault is quite bizarre.

To use a British example. Let's say I lived at 8 Oak Fold, the fold being an alternative to street or drive or avenue. The person who designed the database had never heard of fold as a street name so they left it out of their drop down lists. They didn't think to include a box for free text entry either. They did, however, make it essential that one of the street type names from the drop down list was included in the address. So, the person who is trying to register me on their database, let's say it's Council Tax, does the best that they can and uses Drove as a near equivalent. The form gets processed. The next time, at Vehicle Registration, the fold option is missing again. This time the form filler in chooses Street because that's the most frequent option. No problem to me. I get registered for Council Tax and Vehicle Registration. The problem arises ten years later when I think I live at 8 Oak Fold but Vehicles think I live at Oak Street and Council Tax think I live at Oak Drove and neither can find me.

I was just having a root around the Justice Ministry website. Google told me that its security certificate couldn 't be trusted but I ploughed ahead anyway. Apparently I can download the form, fill it in with a biro and post it to someone. This is quite an unusual Spanish option but it's a good one from my point of view. Actually, as I typed that I wondered if it were true. Lots of times the forms that require payment are triplicate forms which mean that they have to be picked up in person, filled in, paid for over a bank counter and then taken back to the office. Bit of a problem though. The website tells me that there is an intervención técnica - i.e. the site is being fiddled with - and that I have to wait till midnight which was 51 minutes ago as I type.

Ho, ho! Sigh.

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