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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Benjamin Franklin and my adventure

And just when I start feeling as if things are falling into a routine, the tax man cometh.  Yes, yes: death and taxes.  We all know the saying.  But little did I know that when I did my 3 month observation period in the hospital last year that long after my certificate of specialty recognition arrived, I would be seeking another form.  What form?  The tofes 106.  OK so tofes just means form but doesn't it sound more sinister when I give it the foreign name??

Since we live in Israel but earn income in 3 countries (M works for a European firm) taxes are somewhat complicated-- but hey, it's a modern world.  Lots of folks do it.  Anyway, between the US and Israel we have to stay somewhat on our toes with the paperwork for the tax man.  It's always a relief when we can check (here we say "v") off that we've completed the taxes for both countries.  This year the one thing outstanding: my Tofes 106 from last year's 3 month "job."  I put the word job in quotes because it is less a job and more a mandatory period wherein a department chair at a hospital observes your practice for 3 months and (hopefully) signs off at the end that you are actually a specialist in the field that the paperwork you've brought with you from your country of origin says you are.  But it's not really a "job" because though you do have to go and work, they don't pay you.  But it's not a volunteer thing because you can't do it without getting paid (I asked when I was sitting around waiting for paperwork to be processed) so the Ministry of Absorption pays you.  It's a stipend, not a salary.  None of this really matters to the tax authority.  They just want the form.

I started by calling the Ministry of Absorption to see if they could send me the form.  The conversation, though a most excellent Hebrew lesson, was a bit circular.  It started with me introducing myself and my situation.  This was followed by the clerk acknowledging that I had indeed been paid by the Ministry of Absorption but she had no clue how to provide me with the Tofes 106.  Bogus.  It seems they can only give one to employees of the Ministry of Absorption which I clearly was not.  Instead, I worked for the hospital.  But the hospital didn't pay me.  She granted me that point but still we got nowhere.  Then she switched to English, though our barrier was not one of language.  She suggested I check their website.  The website?  She thought maybe I could find out how to get my form from the website.  When I pressed her for where on the website she thought the category of "received a stipend but am not a salaried worker and just need to get a form so I don't get in trouble but wasn't even enough money to get taxed" section might be, she said she really wasn't sure.  The situation after that conversation looked most egregious.

So, next stop was the hospital HR department.  They claim they are able and willing to produce a tofes 106 even though I didn't get paid by them, which would be a most triumphant conclusion to this saga.  However, if I'm not successful there I don't know who I will get in more trouble with:  the IRS (for failure to report earned income) or the Israel tax authority.  Hmmm, interesting new blog series:  life inside an Israeli prison.  Never mind, I can't imagine the paperwork, which would be most heinous.