Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,
Mark
mhaithaca

Tax refund

Israel's one of the many countries that promote shopping to tourists by offering to refund the Value Added Tax (VAT, essentially sales tax) on your purchases when you leave, for all purchases over $100 in a given shop. With the tax rate at 15.5%, that's a significant chunk of your shopping! So, it was important to find the tax refund stands after we got through security at the airport. Getting back that $15 on the 500-shekel Birkenstocks took them from about the same price I'd have paid at, say, Fontana's, to a nice discount.

The lady on line in front of me wasn't a native English speaker, and had missed the (pretty clear) instructions on the form the shop gives you to present at the airport, which says you have to be prepared to present the purchased item when you request your refund. She'd packed the necklace, so she couldn't have her refund. The lady at the counter told her if she came back to Israel within a year and showed the form and the necklace, they'd still give her the refund. You can have it in dollars, shekels, or a credit on your credit card. I chose dollars.

We went through six discrete layers of security on the way to the gate, and I think that's it, other than of course showing our boarding passes (and maybe passports) when it's time to board. The electrical outlets by the gate are all Israeli, of the unique type for which the "universal" adapter kits don't include a connector, so no plugging in. Happily, these planes have electric outlets on board, so I should be able to plug the laptop in and do whatever while flying. Meantime, my iPhone is charging via USB. We were taken by surprise in Tel Aviv on discovering that the adapters needed there are the two-round-prong European types; both my mother and I have those, but left them at home. We were able to borrow adapters in each hotel, but of course don't still have them.

In Newark, Jeff and I were able to join our parents in the fancy-schmancy Continental lounge, even though we didn't get the Business Class upgrades ourselves. Here at Ben-Gurion, though, Continental doesn't have its own lounge, just a cooperative deal with Dan, and Dan won't let us in. We're waiting by the gate, but my mom texted to say she's bringing apples. :-) I got an excellent double espresso (with some of my tax refund cash) to help with the sleep deficit; I'll need more caffeine when it's around time to wake up in Eastern Daylight Time. I'll try to stay awake until a somewhat reasonable bedtime in EDT tonight (we're getting into Newark at 4:35pm, which will feel like 11:35pm) but I'm sure I'll be awake early tomorrow. That's fine; an early start back to Ithaca will mean I have much of the day left when I get home. Might even pop into work briefly.
Tags: israel
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