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RUTA MAVE: Deaths, taxes and sabbaticals

Monday 16 January 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


RUTA MAVE: Deaths, taxes and sabbaticals

We may not wish to lose our close ones but we less wish to hold onto them if it means a living death.

Death and taxes are said to be the two unavoidable realities in life. It is a pity they don’t come in that order, in fact it is often said by those left behind still living that inheritance tax, estate tax and the like will be the death of them.

It is the stuff of nightmares that the Government would see it as an economical move to merge these two entities into one corporation. Imagine when the grim reaper comes knocking, he is carrying a briefcase and pen to sign your life away before having your life taken away.

Then in true government style after creating a commission to investigate why they are losing revenue they find out too late that it doesn’t pay to kill the golden goose – they should have just continued slowly bleeding it dry.

It is interesting to read that our tax department is desperately short on resources but has enough for the top man to desert the sinking ship or at least one plagued with rats and go on holiday for six months. A sabbatical, this is usually paid leave (in our case the top taxman isn’t getting paid) and granted to a worker for study or travel and traditionally one year for every seven years worked.

Either the Revenue Management Division director has been working for at least three and half years and deserves this break, which is hard to accept especially if the department is not functioning very well – means he hasn’t done his job properly.

Or is it the common euphemism we have seen before that spells the death knoll of his job and in a couple or few months we will have a headline that reads ‘Top tax man leaving for family reasons’?

Either way we are still paying taxes to what end? Surely if the top man can go on holiday so can our tax paying.

I know plenty who have worked in their jobs more than seven years and done a great job at it they definitely deserve a holiday from paying tax.

Maybe the tax department is suffering because there are so many deaths occurring at the moment. For whatever reason the social calendar is getting tricky with attending family services and funerals in the same week and sometimes same day. 

There are envelopes of cash being distributed around the island to off set the costs not covered by the funeral allowance given by the government. Any allowance or cash collected not declared as tax, is immediately absorbed by the justice department as the motions to succeed or fight for the land rights of the deceased are put into play.

Once again as in life so to in death lawyers get paid.

What if death decided to take a holiday, would we be better off? The notion has been explored before in movies and books and on the initial side of those who have just lost a loved one it sounds like the perfect deal. For those who have suffered a loss of a parent and had not said all they wanted to before they passed it will give them time to make amends.

Unfortunately, the long and slow decline of a parent doesn’t necessarily inspire such declarations when they are alive and conscious.

It is death’s finality that often wakes the family up to seeing they have missed their opportunity. 

Then there are the parents of children gone too soon either by sickness or accident, no parent should have to bury a child because it goes against the timeline of life.

They say it takes five years of grief to get over losing a child and this is understandable but if you have more than one child can you afford to take the time out and away from them the living?

But if you knew death was on holiday, would you take the time to enjoy the child instead of working and achieving success?

What of those in pain? If death goes on holiday thousands will be left to endure excruciating circumstances.

Those injured in fires, car accidents and war with little left of their physical being able to function and support the basics of human existence would be left suspended in no man’s land – a type of purgatory in itself. 

We may not wish to lose our close ones but we less wish to hold onto them if it means a living death. So it must be that death lives amongst us and all we can do is to make the time in transition from birth valuable, worthy, adventurous and fulfilling.

Taxes may be the death of us, and dealing with death may be taxing, but let’s hope we can survive the latter so when death smiles at us, we can from a life well lived have only one thing left to do – smile back.