Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Collecting tax the Swiss way

Last Saturday, the call came in from a cell phone. I didn't quite make out his name, as he said it so fast, but I managed to catch that he was calling from the "Gemeinde" or city government. It seemed like a hoax until he asked: "Do you still have your dog?"

Oops, I thought. "Yes, yes, yes," I said. "Yes, Bizzi is still with us. I am so sorry. I keep forgetting to come down to pay my dog tax."

"Are you at home tomorrow?" he asked.

"You, you... work on Sundays?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "The whole day."

"Well... let's see. Yes.. It's Sunday... we plan to go skiing at 9:30am. Can you come at 9am?

"In Ordnung," he said. "I will come at 9am. Have CHF 120 ready." He didn't mention that CHF 30 of the amount was a fine for failing to pay the tax before the August deadline. As we are in the USA in the summer, I don't see the small reminder notice in the legals. And that they don't send a bill, makes this tax easy to forget.

He showed up as planned and was friendly. I invited him in for a coffee but he declined. Except for his coming in a marked van, he didn't make me feel like a criminal. He could have admonished me for my lateness or reminded me of the fine, but he didn't. The slight embarrassment of having a police car in my driveway for a few minutes was worth not having to make a special trip to city hall.

Now, that's what I call service.

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