Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Dog Tax Story

The weekend edition of the local paper (Wiesbaden Kurier) came into the house today.  Normally, you can discount ninety-five percent of the contents (travel info to Australia, a puppet display at a local museum, a circus coming to town, etc).  Then you find this one odd thing mentioned. taxes are going up locally in Wiesbaden.  Per year.....per'll go to roughly 180-Euro (200 dollars).

What Germans will say in explaining the necessity of the that it pays for dog poop on the ground and some sanitation team comes through each week to clean the sidewalks. Basically, it's a bogus story which gets repeated often by political enthusiasts and city hall bureaucrats.

Most people carry around a little plastic bag and pick up the dog poop as they walk the dog three or four times a day.

 The money, once collected by your local city hall operation, goes into the city hall pot of money....not some special pot that only does sidewalk cleaning.

I can attest to the fact that in my own little village of 4,400 residents....the city of Wiesbaden never comes through with some team of highly trained sidewalk cleaners and does some wash-down of the sidewalks.

Even in Wiesbaden, I'd suggest that barely a quarter of all the streets in the city get a once a month clean-up.  If you wandered around the downtown area and high commerce areas.....there might be a daily clean-up team coming through....otherwise, it's all bogus claims.

So you look at this 180 Euro of cost per dog.  In my village....there's around 400 dogs....more or less.  Some folks have one single dog....some have two dogs.  If you add it up, that's 72,000 Euro collected from one small 'burb'.  Across the entire city of Wiesbaden, the claim is roughly 9,600 dogs.....bringing the collection plate to near 1.7 million Euro....just in dog taxes (with the new number in effect).

It's a fair sum of money.

A cat tax?  No.  No one in Germany has ever suggested such a tax.  Oddly, we had a legal battle brew up in Hessen over one community which started up a horse tax (something that had never existed before).  The city went to court, and horses are taxed in that one town.

I once worked with an American who had his dog registered in town and faithfully paid the tax.  One summer day....the dog (old as he was) passed on.  The guy had a connection via the base vet clinic, and they helped him dispose of the dog.  So somewhere around eighteen months later....there's this letter to come to his house from the Rathaus of the owe money on 'Huns' (his dog).  He went down and explained....Huns is dead....long dead in fact.  Well, that didn't make things go easy.  The German clerk wanted a death certificate or note from some vet to say for sure that Huns was dead.  My associate went to the American-military run vet on base, and they didn't really have anything in the files that said they handled Huns or his body.  So, things weren't going well.  Finally....some clerk at the vet clinic told him to wait five minutes, and the clerk produced a slip....stamped by the clerk as official....stating Huns was dead on such-and-such day.

Yeah, it was a made-up certificate with no real authenticity other than a stupid stamp.  But the Rathaus clerk accepted this, and the dog tax issue disappeared for my associate.

So, when you hear some German at the pub....woefully whining about more dog will understand the issue.  Maybe you will even buy the poor guy a beer or two to make up for his whining.

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