Florida State Government Creating Libertarians One at a Time

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

A Florida man spent $23 at the local hardware store, but noticed on his way home that the store forgot to charge him the state’s sales tax.  So when he got home, he (somewhat oddly) wrote a check to the state Department of Revenue to cover the tax.

Big mistake:

He sent a check to the state for a dollar and 50 cents—with a full explanation. But the very next month—the agency demanded Scott pay a 50 dollar fine —because it thought he was a business—that failed to file tax returns.

Scott sent another letter to Tallahassee clearly stating that he was paying sales tax as a customer after a minor mistake. He thought that was the end of it. But far from it—the next month the revenue department insisted Scott was a business that had to pay a 650 dollar fine—or face collections —AND criminal charges.”And possibly prosecute me under a third degree felony for stealing money from the state,” said Scott.

It took an inquiry from an Orlando news station to get the matter corrected.

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24 Responses to “Florida State Government Creating Libertarians One at a Time”

  1. #1 |  Bill | 

    No good deed goes unpunished, except this really wasn’t a good deed. If anything I think that people should avoid paying taxes (legally) whenever possible. The money is just going to be used to fund war (usually the war on drugs when it comes to state taxes). Buy things online – like my book – see the link above. Travel a bit to avoid taxes. Maryland taxes everything, but a few miles north in PA you can avoid paying taxes on food and clothing (which is nice if you need to buy a few new suits). Delaware doesn’t have a sales tax on anything. Gas is cheap right now, so drive a few miles to starve the beast.

  2. #2 |  asg | 

    The last line is the best:

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

    I’m sure they’ll be right on that.

  3. #3 |  MacK | 

    As a former sailor, and a current federal park employee Scott should know that the government is the best at fraud, abuse, and waste.
    I kinda find it hard to feel sorry for him.
    I’m a retired military man myself, and you would have to be a complete idiot not to understand how idiotic the government can be.

  4. #4 |  CHRISC | 

    But don’t you see? This is why we pay our state and federal employees so much money with such great benefits. So we get only the best and the brightest!!! Surely they do this to ensure our tax dollars are optimized!!

  5. #5 |  Bob | 

    Ok… You guys are going to slap me around… again…. for this, but this needs to be pointed out.

    Every state in the country goes out of it’s way to ALLOW you to run a business. In general, you can just say you’re a business and poof! You’re a sole proprietorship, with your own name as your DBA. If you want to form a corporation? Piece of cake. Most states will even allow you to be CEO, President, and all 3 board officers. Done deal!

    As such, it was perfectly reasonable for them to believe the money came from a business. Sending a cover letter like that just makes government MORE expensive to run. What, you think the people opening envelopes and processing data at the revenue center are freakin’ accountants? No! They’re there to process payments as quickly as possible.

    Basically, when he remitted his ‘Tax Payment’, he included all the information that was needed… the payment, his Business name and it’s DBA.

    What he should have done, if he was really serious about the state getting it’s buck five, was to go back to the store.

    Now… if there were 100 business in the state of Florida, and the revenue department was staffed by 3 people… then I would agree that a letter like that should stop work and be corrected immediately. But that kind of exception processing won’t work in the real world, where there are thousands and thousands of businesses and you’re trying to run your processing centers efficiently.

  6. #6 |  tim | 

    So what I am getting from this story is that in the future when the state government screws up on something – don’t attempt to escalate through appropriate channels – just call their PR department.

  7. #7 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Every state in the country goes out of it’s way to ALLOW you to run a business. In general, you can just say you’re a business and poof! You’re a sole proprietorship, with your own name as your DBA. If you want to form a corporation? Piece of cake. Most states will even allow you to be CEO, President, and all 3 board officers. Done deal!

    I love it how government bureaucracy has grown to the point that NOT interfering with private business now qualifies as “going out of its way to ALLOW you to run a business.”

  8. #8 |  Mike T | 

    In a world less driven by madness, a prosecutor would have called him into his office so that they could have a good laugh after the prosecutor puts the speakerphone on and tells the Department of Revenue to shove its ridiculous charges up its collective ass…

  9. #9 |  Chris K. | 

    I wish he would have not said a word. Let the government come and arrest him. Let them waste as much resources chasing an obviously innocent man as possible.

  10. #10 |  Eric | 

    Bob:

    I actually agree with you that the initial mistake was probably one made when the state employees quickly took and applied the money mechanically. The problem is that this guy tried to correct the problem repeatedly, with no luck, and with escalating threats from the state instead.

    I used to represent a business with a few dozen outlets in the City of Chicago in their annual license renewal. There was a fire drill every year getting the papers in order, because the state employees clung so tightly to their routines and were unable to provide any piece of information that wasn’t directly within their scope. I would frequently go from floor to floor to floor collecting pieces of the puzzle until I could get a full answer. By the third year, I was an ace and understood that the 5-people-and-three-visits-to-get-one-answer model was actually a required part of the game.

    They say mice have muscle memory that is so wired in that you can remove walls and they will still run and make turns along the old boundaries. That is my experience with state and local government. They know that to get from point A to point B you filll this out and pay that amount and file the other thing in triplicate. No matter how different the circumstances they will work hard to bring it back to those three steps.

  11. #11 |  Marty | 

    ‘Every state in the country goes out of it’s way to ALLOW you to run a business. ‘

    unbelievable. I can’t imagine anyone who’s ever started a business typing this…

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    Isn’t it the case that the state would get their tax money whether or not this guy paid it to them? They basically go over the receipts of the store, and say ‘you owe us this much money’, which they have to pay. Saying “Oh, we forgot to collect it from this guy” doesn’t work.

    So basically, his letter to the state is giving them EXTRA money. Like Bob in #5 said: if he wanted the state to get its money, he should have gone back to the store and given it to them. Or more correctly, if he didn’t want the store to have to pay it out of their pocket, for their mistake (in their forced-upon role as tax collectors for the state), he would have gone back to the store.

  13. #13 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

    The moral of the story is to never invite “the man” into your life.

  14. #14 |  thomasblair | 

    ClubMedSux,

    I love it how government bureaucracy has grown to the point that NOT interfering with private business now qualifies as “going out of its way to ALLOW you to run a business.”

    Not bureaucracy. Propaganda.

  15. #15 |  thomasblair | 

    Chris K.,

    I wish he would have not said a word. Let the government come and arrest him. Let them waste as much resources chasing an obviously innocent man as possible.

    No way. They’d have found something – anything – to charge him with. Keep in mind. This is the same criminal organization that charged Dymond Milburn with assault after resisting the aggression of three men who jumped out of a blue van and punched her in the throat.

  16. #16 |  Marty | 

    chris k,

    My thoughts exactly- the late fees from not responding in a timely manner would’ve resulted in liens being placed on his house or some other nonsense. Of course, correcting this mess would’ve bankrupted him…

    Paratrooper said it best- ‘…never invite “the man” into your life.’

  17. #17 |  Marty | 

    chris k,

    My thoughts exactly- the late fees from not responding in a timely manner would’ve resulted in liens being placed on his house or some other nonsense. Of course, correcting this mess would’ve bankrupted him…

    Paratrooper said it best- ‘…never invite “the man” into your life.’

  18. #18 |  perlhaqr | 

    Well, I just hope he’s learned his lesson!

  19. #19 |  Jason | 

    Hey, let’s put the government in charge of the whole economy. Government is awesome!

    http://rightklik.net

  20. #20 |  GreginOz | 

    Copyright 2008 by wftv.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    You are a bad man, Radley, keep up the bad work! Merry Xmas & a stonking hangover!!!

  21. #21 |  Robin | 

    Though, lets face it, this man is a lonely and disturbed person, probably spends his days staring out the window guarding his lawn from being stepped on by the neighbor’s kids. As I think “Bob” aptly pointed out above, a payment such as this strains credulity such that the IRS can’t be blamed for, at least initially, misinterpreting the payment. If this experience didn’t get him a pat on the head from the federal government, then at least he probably got some much needed validation from local journalists.

  22. #22 |  MacGregory | 

    This has happened to me on occasion. The state where I live charges an 11% tax on liquor and a 6% tax on merchandise. I went to buy a bottle of spirits that did not “scan” at the register. The clerk had to manually type in the price but mistakenly put it on the wrong key. So I paid the 6%. I knew it was incorrect but I kept my mouth shut anyway. Sadly though, it isn’t the government that will take the bite on this. It’s the business.
    I guess I’m just a bad person, a criminal or un-patriotic perhaps. Please do not shoot my doggy.

  23. #23 |  Robin | 

    My mistake–”state” government.

  24. #24 |  Guy Tries To Pay $1.50 In Missed Sales Tax, Gets Threatened With Fines, Criminal Charges | The-Informer | 

    [...] 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. [...]

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