Sax Tax

I just quickly checked my email on the local free network, and thought I’d post this before I go see Lime for a bit, before my next class starts up.

When I arrived in Incheon this afternoon, I was (of course) stopped by the Customs Officers, but they didn’t just once-over my bag and wave me through. No, no, they asked me to follow them to a side room, and a long, confusing discussion that I couldn’t really follow commenced. At the end of it, I learned that, on that strange and perplexing evening when I first arrived in Korea, on December 30th 2001, and the Customs Official asked to inspect my saxophone, I ought not to have told her that it was worth roughly $1000.

It turns out that (a) the instrument was only supposed to stay for a year, at which point I was to carry it out of the country or tell the customs office it was staying longer (something I was never told, though I vaguely remember an unreadable letter at some point in 2003), (b) that having overstayed its welcome in the country, it is subject to a tax (of what seems to be about $40 a year), (c) that I owe this within the next couple of weeks, and (d) that saxophones are special musical instruments which, even if they’re in bad shape and worth less than the laptop I’m carrying in my backpack, need to be controlled by the customs office.

What was particularly annoying to me was this idea that after completing a year of work in Korea, I would automatically go to Canada again. Apparently I could arrange something with the customs office if I decided to travel elsewhere, but not knowing that any of this silliness was necessary to begin with, I just shrugged my shoulders.

What’s worse is the soprano sax that my friend Kim carried into Korea and never registered. I really have to wonder what they’d say about that one.

Right, gotta go, Lime’s a-waiting.

7 thoughts on “Sax Tax

  1. If you’re going to mention a friend that has undeclared possessions, you might want to do it in a private post.

    This year, I reserve the right to use the base of my choice for my age. I’ll be x20 on Saturday…

  2. A tax on a saxophone? This has got to be one of the most odious, arbitrary, and senseless actions of the Korean government. It’s so surprising and down right petty, as well as being rather intrusive.

  3. Jean-Louis,

    Ha, but they aren’t reading my website… and even if they knew it was here, they would never notice. Anyway, I plan on inquiring about it as soon as Lime has a chance to call… I’d rather not deal with this stupidity again, if I can help it, and someone, eventually, is going to try tell me I can’t bring my soprano out of country, I’m sure of it.

    *shakes head*

  4. By the way, happy birthday to us. I wonder what Jessie’s doing?

    Me, I half-forgot it was my birthday tomorrow, let alone our shared birthday. Been so busy and all…

  5. I have all sorts of things planned for the weekend. Brunch tomorrow morning and a cajun feast on Sunday where I invited some friends over. You know, we should organise a get-together for one of our future birthdays. Or maybe our third of century. I calculated that 33 years and 4 months equals an exact third of a century, so that takes us to July 4th 2007. I plan on making a big thing out of it.

  6. As long as I know, the custom officers could tax new items (esp. rare and expensive), which were purchased outside Korea. For example, if I carried more than one bottle of alcohol, I had to pay tax on extra bottles (the limit of alcohol bottle was one as long as I remember). But if you could prove that you didn’t buy the instrument while you were on a trip and you owned it for years or it was used, you may be fine.

    Also, there may be a tax treaty between Canada and Korea, which may allow tax exemption to Canadians in Korea and Koreans in Canada for a limited time. Good luck!

  7. On second thought, since I’m starting a new semester at a new school, I imagine there might be a lot of googling of my name, so I have decided to put this under private posts for the moment. Gaaah.

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