The annual Municipal Tax Assessment, there it is. The feared blue envelope always gives me the jitters. As always, it arrives at an inconvenient time.

I put it on the table, unopened, and let it stare at me. I don’t stare back.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         It was somewhere in May 2020, and Covid has emerged. Many people had booked their summer holiday and had made a substantial deposit. The travel industries were in total confusion since governmental pandemic management gave out contradictory signals regarding travel restrictions. Holidaymakers and business travellers too were wondering whether their down payment and other financial obligations would go up in smoke. 

What did the travel industries do? They offered vouchers as financial compensation, which should be paid out or redeemed in the course of 2021. 

This concept was not bad at all, but consumers complained about a backlog of vouchers that still had to be issued. Furthermore, there was distrust about industries being financially solvent enough for the compensation, should the pandemic take long.


So, it was during that period that I received the blue envelope. After a couple of days, I opened it and was shocked to see the amount of money I was to pay. There had to be something wrong.

I phoned the tax department and got to speak to a kind gentleman, who quickly determined the error in the assessment. He promised to correct it into the appropriate amount, which still was quite some money. 

I took the opportunity to ask him if there was a possibility of delayed payment because Covid already had affected me. There was not yet, although the municipal council was considering it. 


Being in a crazy mood that day, I asked him if I could pay with my company’s very trustworthy Orange Gift Certificates because I didn’t have the money right now. After all, the travel industries did something similar under these circumstances.

There was a moment of silence on the other side of the line. Then the man said in a conspiratorial tone: “The Municipality does not accept vouchers. But I do privately”. 

Another moment of silence, in which naïve me was puzzled, then he burst into laughter, and so did I.


The result of this humourous contact was (very scarce in this time of governmental dehumanisation) that he sent me a corrected assessment with a very generous payment scheme. 


The point is that humour and kindness can work wonders. However, kidding a (national) tax inspector can cost you dearly. Not many officials in that position have a good sense of humour or can get out of the grip of the ruthless bureaucracy. So, let your antennae work and watch your steps. Better to seek a laugh elsewhere.


Needless to say, that kindness and humour contribute to your well-being and that of others. 


Let someone make someone else happy.

Read more about: Orange Gift Certificates click here