Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Health and Taxes

Yesterday I went to the local doctor's office for a routine screening. I was impressed with the system for checking in -- a touch screen that asks you for your birthday and gender, then lets your nurse or doctor know you're there. I waited for two minutes and was ushered into the exam room. A nurse was performing an exam that a doctor would do in the States, and frankly, a nurse can do it more cost-efficiently.

Thinking everything went well, I was about to leave the room when the nurse told me to fill out an envelope at the desk so they could mail me my test results. OK. My dentist in DC used to have me do as much. Then she told me I needed a stamp. Huh? Apparently all my NHS tax dollars aren't enough to supply the GPs with stamps. Fortunately, I had 30p on me and was able to buy one at the desk. Honestly, who goes to the doctor's office with stamps? The English, apparently.

After that, I trekked to the Post Office, hoping that Royal Mail had finally delivered the Christmas bounty sent by Smitty's kind parents. I was half right. It was from Smitty's folks, but it was my birthday present -- a much needed hat and scarf. Just in time for the drop in temperatures!

Then I went to work, where I found an email from my accountant. Seems I owe Her Majesty one pound ($1.98) in taxes. My accountant said I could apply this to any refund I might get next year. Thrilled, I said, let's do that. Then they said there would be a penalty for doing that. How much? A few pence, as the amount is so small. So I can't apply it to a refund then? Well I can, I just have to pay a penalty. Sigh. Bloody accountants. I have to decide by Jan. 31 how to handle it.

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