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So among the things I do around here while I’m not busy communicating with people I don’t yet know, but someday might is some editing and translation, and some teaching. I do these freelance, which means I have to use something called a boleta to bill them. It’s a nifty little system, now that I have boletas electrónicas, or as I like to call them “online boletas.” You tell the person who owes you money and the government how much it is at the same time, and it’s all online. Everyone wins. I think.

There are two main ways of getting paid here, as an employee and as a contractor. As a contractor, you can either use your own boletas (electrónicas or paper, I suppose), or use a third-party boleta. I have used a third-party boleta before, and that’s a whole story for some other time, but right now we’re talking about my own boletas. You sign up for these on the SII website, and it’s pretty easy, though it was hard to qualify what I do in terms of boletas. I think I ended up as an interpreter translator lender of professional office services, or something like that. I don’t do interpretation, but nobody seemed to mind.

When you are paid by boleta, there is 10% that someone retains. Could be you, or could be the person that paid you. If it is the person that paid you, in (apparently) the worldwide tax month of April, you do some mad abracadabra and the money comes back to you, either directly online or as a check, slipped under your door.

If, however, the person that pays you does not retain the money, you are required to do so. I have no problem retaining money, though I do occasionally let some of it slip through my fingers, spending it on diet coke and other vices. What I wanted to know, now that April is just around the corner was, do I need to give this money to the government and then get my refund from them? And if so, how?

I called the helpful people at SII, who informed me that I needed to fill out the dreaded formulario 29. I looked at the formulario 29 and determined that it had more fields for filling out than I had information. Then I looked at the instructions and decided that that was going to give me (more) grey hair. I called a couple of friends, and none of them knew what to do, saying, galla! (girl!) your situation is so strange? Why does this always happen to you!

To which I responded, because the universe knows I like a challenge.

So this morning, fortified by a giant cup of espresso with cold-frothed milk, and with cash and a checkbook and a credit card on hand, just in case I managed to find someone who could explain the whole thing to me, hold my hand through the form filling out and take my money, I would be ready. I also brought my Chilean ID because you can do nothing in Chile without your ID, except go to the doctor, for which you only require your right index finger.

I pedaled over to SII (the one on Santa Rosa, and by the way, did they move, because I’m sure the last time I went that building was on the other side of the street), locked up my bike, wondered at what point in the bureaucracy my blood would start to boil and/or tears would begin to flow. I walked up to the woman behind the information desk and started to explain my situation.

Which goes like this. blablabblablabla.

Fade to audible:

Why do you want to pay? she said.

Um, because I think I have to, I said.

No, boletas don’t require you to pay, she said.

Then why is there a system for me to declare and pay online? I said.

Oh, you can pay online, she said.

I tried, I said, but there are so.many.fields on that dreaded formulario. I said.

Oh, I don’t have any forms, she said. Maybe someone from this line (pointing) has a form, or you can buy one from the kiosks.

Or I could do it online, I said.

Right, online, she said.

But the fields? I said.

You just need to pop the info into fields 152, 595 and 91. she said.

152, 595 and 91, I said? (note: the convention for reciting a series of number is to recite them in size order, not to recite them in size order and then put the lowest one at the end)

yes, she said. But it’s really not a good idea for you to pay because they’ll fine you (I’m overdue), and you won’t get the fine money back.

They’ll fine me if I pay my taxes, I said? So it’s better if I don’t pay them?

That’s right, she said.

… it was hard to trust her at this point, since she recited those numbers out of order, but she seemed pretty sure of what she was saying.

I don’t want to end up in Dicom, I said.

… Ending up in Dicom is having a bad credit rating, the kind of thing that prevents you from doing pretty much anything in Chile. It’s like being blacklisted.

You won’t end up in Dicom, she said.

What about the other money, that the people who paid me retained? I asked.

That part you get back in April, she said.

So I don’t pay this part? I said.

You could, but it’s not a good idea, because of the penalties. Though if you do it online it’s less because you get a credit for doing it online. She said.

So I don’t pay, and I don’t go in Dicom, I said?

Right, she said. Anything else?

No, I said.

… And then I stood there, blinking, wondering what had happened, and started to walk home, except that then I noticed I had my bike helmet strapped to my bag and lo! there was my bike outside, so I pedalled home instead. Which, in addition to avoiding brain injury, is why you should always wear a helmet.

I’m still confused. And now so are you.

See? Generous.

Tune in tomorrow for OMG, I’m going to New Zealand, and it rains there all the time like the rain of the rainy place, what was I thinking?