When she was a young girl, Klara Zubutova was detained as a prisoner at a concentration camp. Today, the Holocaust survivor is entitled to pension payments from the German government, which are not subject to taxation.
Last week, Zubutova received a letter in the mail — written in German — from Bundeszentralamt fur Steuern, which is the tax law service of Germany (translated, it means the Federal Central Office for Taxes).
Confused, Zubutova went to see Senator David Storobin’s staff in the hopes that they may help her translate and understand the letter. Turns out, the German agency was trying to collect taxes on Zubutova’s pension payments.
Storobin wrote a letter to the German consulate in New York City, which confirmed the error with a return letter.
According to a release from Storobin’s office, the German consulate replied, “It is a matter of course that Holocaust survivors have to be treated with the highest respect and consideration. I very much regret that those concerned feel inappropriately treated.”
The German government exempted Klara from the taxes.
Storobin urges other survivors who receive any confusing mail to contact his office at (718) 743-8610.
“The German government was contrite when I contacted them. But we just can’t know how common this is,” Storobin said. “My district in Brooklyn has thousands of survivors. Today, they are all senior citizens. I hope that they are not erroneously paying taxes on their German pensions.
“Let me be clear: you don’t owe a dollar to the German government for surviving the Holocaust,” concluded Storobin.