A Deduction Reduction

, , , , | Right | September 4, 2018

(As tax students, we have to work at a tax office for two weeks during the period everyone has to fill in their tax return forms. We help people fill in their forms if they have trouble understanding how it works. In the Netherlands, you’re allowed to deduct expenses on certain items of clothing and bedding from your income so you don’t pay tax over them, if you pass a certain threshold. This is proven by simply showing me the receipt. I’m with a 73-year-old customer who has deducted money for this for the last few years and wants me to do it this year, too. He was already slightly irritated when he came in. As students, we don’t have access to any of the databases, so we can’t check any previously filled-in forms.)

Me: “Did you have any expenses on clothing and bedding for medical purpose this year, sir?”

Customer: “Yes, about €400.”

Me: “Can I see the receipts, please?”

Customer: “I don’t keep a receipt; it’s just the regular stuff everyone buys.”

Me: *slightly alarmed* “You mean normal clothes?”

Customer: *getting more irritated* “Yes, clothes like you’re wearing; you can deduct them. I do it every year. Go check your database.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t check any databases, and also I’m not allowed to let you deduct anything if it’s for regular clothing.”

Customer: *now getting red and talking very loudly* “Well, I’ve been doing it for years. What kind of nonsense is it that I can’t do it now?”

Me: “Then you’re lucky you’ve never been caught in the past few years. I surely will not allow it now.”

Customer: “Next thing you tell me is you won’t deduct my Viagra, either.”

(Luckily for me, he had a prescription for that, so I didn’t need to have the same discussion all over again.)

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