This November I visited Germany for the first time. More specifically, I was in Berlin, having also had the opportunity to visit the Potsdam area (capital of the federal state of Brandenburg).
Travel is, from my point of view, one of the best investments that can be made. It opens us horizons, allows us to contact with other realities and other ways of being, which can only contribute to our growth as human beings, as from a personal point of view as from a professional perspective. This time the trip had a professional motivation (participation in an international congress in the field of accounting, auditing and taxation), having obviously been exploited to know a little of the great metropolis that is now Berlin.
Berlin is a city full of history, where very important events of the 20th century took place in Europe (and in the World). The Berlin Wall is certainly the biggest landmark in this city’s recent history and has had a huge impact on the lives of millions of Berliners. For those of us who, like me, did not have the opportunity to see Berlin as a divided city, it is difficult to imagine how those two different realities lived together in the same city, separated by a highly guarded wall.
I was particularly struck by the way the Germans deal with the memory of the wall. They do not try to erase it, but rather to remember at any moment that the wall existed, seeking that the present and future generations do not forget, so that they do not make the same mistakes again. For example, on the floor throughout the city, in the form of stones of the sidewalk of different color, there is the mark of where the wall was.
I highly recommend a visit to this city. But my journey was not only limited to revisiting historical events, but also to short stories that I can not resist sharing with you (I will obviously spare you the technicities discussed at the congress, because I do not want you to stop reading my articles).
Upon arrival at Tegel Airport, we drove to the hotel to take a taxi. We provide the driver with the identification of the hotel, and its address. The same informs us that the price will be approximately 45 euros, but that he can leave it for 40 euros in case he doesn’t issue the invoice. In his words, “You know how it is, that’s better for me, I have a big family, and the taxes here are very high…”.
I had the chance to take a bus tour through the city of Berlin. Among other points of interest, we visited the Museumsinsel area (Museum Island). It is an island in the middle of the River Spree, and it is so called because there are five museums (Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum). Some of these museums are currently under rehabilitation and expansion works. When we went through these works, the tour guide (of German nationality, therefore, at start, unsuspected) referred to them as a “disaster in terms of deadlines and budget; in addition to already having a very significant delay compared to the initially programmed, the expected cost has already been largely exceeded, being currently unknown the real total cost at the end.”
At one of the congress lunches, I had the opportunity to exchange some ideas with a German colleague, also a tax consultant. He told me that, in the context of anti-tax evasion policies, the German tax authorities had decided to go ahead with a pilot project in the city of Hamburg. This project focused on the passenger land transport sector, and consisted in the assembly of control devices of the kilometers travelled by vehicle, with the objective of crossing this information with the billing issued. In the first six months that the project was implemented, the billing declared by the economic agents targeted by this control, rose “only” 50%. At the end of this period, through a political decision of our well-known German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, the project was suspended and the control equipment removed from the vehicles.
These three stories only show that, after all, Germans and us are not that different.
Till next post!
UWU Solutions CEO / Consultant / Lecturer