Guy Tries To Pay $1.50 In Missed Sales Tax, Gets Threatened With Fines, Criminal Charges

from the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished dept

The Agitator points us to quite a ridiculous story coming out of Florida. An incredibly law-abiding citizen almost got seriously punished for going above and beyond to live up to the law. Apparently he bought some things for personal use at a local hardware store — and then noticed that the store forgot to charge him sales tax on the $23 bill. It was probably because the guy also works for an organization that is tax exempt, and the store just assumed he was buying on that account. Now, most people would think “cool” and move on. But, not this guy. He felt obliged to send in $1.50 and an explanation to Florida’s Dept. of Revenue.

You would think that Florida would be thrilled to find such an incredibly honest person. Instead, it sent him an angry letter fining him $50 for failing to file a business tax return. He wrote back, explaining the situation again, noting that it wasn’t a business, and he was just making up for the forgotten sales tax charge. The state’s response? A demand for $650 in business taxes and a threat of criminal charges. It was only after a local TV news channel contacted the state on the guy’s behalf that Florida admitted its mistake. Isn’t bureaucracy great?

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Comments on “Guy Tries To Pay $1.50 In Missed Sales Tax, Gets Threatened With Fines, Criminal Charges”

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43 Comments
Johannes de Silencio says:

Stupid Government

The bureaucracy is a human endeavor. It has its own unique character and its own unique flaws. But all human endeavors are tainted with the flaws of human personality. Coffee shops have brain dead coffee-jerks that fill cups over the brim that spill all over, increasing the spillage with the degree to which coffee-jerks are asked to “leave room for the cream.” Cable contractors (or was it fios) burn down houses when installing their service. And then there are the Detriot Lions.

That’s why I have initiated a campaign, ala the Star Trek Movie I, to solve that problem. Replace the bureaucrats and coffee-jerks, and well the Detriot Lions, with robots. The humans can all move to Cancun and hit the beach while the robots pay the gas bills.

Bureaucrats are programmed to be removed from illicit incentives of political pressure (think illinois). They can also be removed from licit incentives to do the right thing. There are bad apples. There are bad apples everywhere.

What’s more interesting is how, in this post-news media area where newspapers and TV newsrooms are going the way of ENRON, how can the bad apples be exposed. How can Web 2.0 be used to align incentives with the “licit.”

interval says:

Re: Stupid Government

Your point, while a bit wordy and somewhat all aver the place, is well taken. It seems like the function of modern government is no longer to serve, but to exist, and expand, and roll over the common man. And serve the rich.

Briefly: A friend of mine got divorced with one child involved. The mother of this child made a little more money than the father, and a judge, following the law, judged AGAINST the mother to the tune of $4 a month. The father didn’t bother to collect this money. A few years go by and the state CPS suddenly sent HIM a notice of collection for a few hundred dollars. The mother wasn’t exactly sympathetic, but had always been reasonable and had not started the action, especially since it meant she would have been acting against herself. So she did nothing.

After some more years of failing to get that state to understand the judgment was not against him but the mother he finally got in front of another judge who rectified the situation.

I simply have no love for politicians who speak only of expanding government. I hear loads about spending and collecting taxes. I very rarely hear about politicians who speak about reigning in government and spending the taxes they collect more efficiently. Thus, may they all hang.

Charlie Crist's Fake Tan in a Bottle says:

Low class idiots

Florida is filled with idiots. Perhaps anyone with brains left there years ago. When I visited earlier this year, I was nearly ran over when crossing the street to get to DisneyWorld. It was surreal when 10 minutes later, a friend mentioned that they have the highest insurance rates in the nation…

But this guy who wanted to $1.50 in taxes from the hardware store that didn’t charge him needs to get out of the state. He’s probably a part of the 2% of people who don’t aim for tourists crossing the street.

Then there’s the blowhard Rush Limbaugh who preaches from the Florida-based EIB Pulpit every day. Idiots, I tell ya.

Doc Rings says:

I've learned a few lessons...

Don’t fight the system…even if you see a flaw. The government will let you know if they think you owe them money.

It would have been easier for him to solve this at the original point of sale… Have the store refund & recharge him.

Once the government gets involved, you have awoken a slumbering (idiotic) giant.

This guy probably unintentionally “cost” the government $150 in man-hours, paperwork, postage, filing costs already… just to “save” a buck-fitty.

He has surely learned his lesson…don’t try to outsmart the government, even if your conscious says different. You *are* smarter, but they are MUCH bigger, and can impose fines/imprisonment on you…enforceable with guns and threat of personal harm. And have you really helped your family then?

interval says:

Here’s the kicker: “The department of revenue said it’s reviewing procedures to determine how this could happen, and how Anderson’s letters were ignored.”

So what will happen now is that Florida will implement the “fix”. That “fix” will in turn fuck over a bunch of other citizens. And the domino effect will cause the state machine to roll over someone else. Maybe an entire town.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a native Floridian, I can fully understand the term “Floridiots”….I believe it references all those Northern transplants and tourists who don’t comprehend that Disney World is nothing but an overpriced amusement park, not an actual state of being. But that’s ok, keep bringing all that money down here…we sure can use it! 🙂

Obligatory 1984 Man says:

The ministry of truth disagrees.

This guy screwed up. He owed $650 dollars. His calculation of $1.50 based on looking at the receipt was simply a mistake and the receipt will be corrected accordingly. I’m not sure where you got the idea about $50. I think if you check the newscast again, you’ll find that there was never any $50 owed, it was always $650 that he owed.

Oceania has always been at war with East Asia.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Florida Government should fire the person responsible!

This is a bureaucracy. There likely is no one individual responsible.

The first person got the letter, filed the 10-91A-BC form, which caused their manager to report to department 14 to cross verify the 19-X was properly filed in triplicate. That in turn caused the mail room to print a 17-C-14 to fax it across to Family Services, which sent out for a paid lunch billed back to the Corrections Department…etcetera…

Not Big Brothers Fault! says:

This incredibly law-abiding citizen…
Should have had the common sense to do what most incredibly law-abiding citizens would have done.
Drive back to the Hardware store with the Receipt in hand and given the Clerk the Buck Fifty he owed THEM.
Then they could correct THEIR tax mistake like an incredibly law-abiding small business.

Not kick in the doors at the Supreme Court and try to pay for a penny candy he stole!
He deserves the harassment he got!

Vic says:

Aha! The prediction comes true!

Read this report and recalled some old sci-fi story (do not remember the author or the name of it). It sounded ridiculous (although fascinating) at the time but now it makes sense.

In that sci-fi a guy (for in a computerized future) gets a bill in the mail for exactly $0.00. As a normal human he just ignores it and that causes an avalanche of fines for the unpaid bill. The fines grow bigger and bigger and the whole thing ends with a death sentence.

Kudos to the writer!

doraine hallman says:

sales tax

i understand how he feels i am a mother of triplets and have worked night hours cleaning buildings so that i would not have to hire child care or be on welfare i stay up with my children alday. i get a threat from the sales tax people in south dakota i owe them 450.00 dollars i have been in bussiness for 6 yaers and have always paid.they threaten me with crimanal action.if i wanted to take from this state i would just sit home with my triplets and collect welfare but i am not like that.i could have taken more then that just by not working and collect money from the state.some one has to draw the line

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