Taxes and (half-)marathons

Death and taxes are supposedly the two constants in life. I’ve had to file my first Hong Kong tax return this week. This was simplicity in itself. Having gone through similar processes in the UK, and dealing with HMRC, the comparison (if you can call it that) is very stark. The brown envelope with Inland Revenue written across it never seemed to contain good news and was received with something approaching dread. Here, it’s a green envelope containing a much shorter form which in turn is much easier to complete (very tempting to describe it as less taxing…)

In fact, the only pieces of information I needed to provide was my name, ID number, and my earnings in the last tax year. I will then be presented with a tax bill in the near future. There is also an option to file online, much like the UK. However, logging onto the etax website presents an SSL certificate warning in Firefox. Not exactly inspiring confidence, so I’ll stick to a paper based filing. The etax website does have a tax calculator available so that you can get an estimate of your tax bill. There are two possible values – one with no rebate included, and one with the projected rebate included. With no rebate my tax bill will be just over one month’s salary (on ten months of taxable salary, then obviously equates to just over 10%). With the projected rebate this drops to considerably less than one month’s salary (about 8%). Hurray! Tax freedom day in the UK is normally in June – tax freedom day in Hong Kong could be January or early February. Which is just as well as I’m going to need cashflow to buy out the lease on my flat back in the UK. As per usual for me, money works out as pretty much a zero sum game.

I also agreed with some friends through hockey that running the Hong Kong half-marathon next January/February would be a good idea. Having run a few halfs in the UK and generally run the distance in about 1:40 I was fairly confident about having enough time to get into shape and be able to post a reasonable time. I’m now pretty sure this will be my slowest time, and frankly, beating the 2 hour mark will be my first goal. Admittedly this is the hottest and most humid time of year and conditions will be easier in January/February but I have definitely noticed that it’s the breathing that is more problematic than tiredness in the legs. This should definitely be a challenge when the time comes.

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