Thursday, November 18, 2010

"We're from the gummint...."

Reader Sam B offers this frustrating tale of how new IRS regulations cost him a day's work. It's important to understand, however, that Sam's no ordinary businessman: he's a successful small business owner and an SBA Small Business Development consultant. In other words, he's an actual expert in starting and growing small businesses, and an accomplished one, at that. The following tale is relevant to our readers because it is exactly the kind of experience we can expect under ObamaCare©:

I own a microbusiness (less than 20 employees – in fact, I have only two other than myself). On Monday, November 15th I received a letter from the US Government’s new Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). I am now to pay my monthly 941 federal withholding taxes on-line (as opposed to paying them with a coupon through my bank). Ironically, that same day (the 15th, mind you) my local bank ceased taking coupons. They told me that they had been announcing the end of coupon acceptance through signage in their lobby. Oh well, I only use the drive-thru or go on-line. I wonder why they didn’t announce it on-line? Perhaps their ad encouraging me to take another loan out on my house got in the way. But I digress.

I spent 3 hours and 47 minutes on the phone, bouncing between three 1-800 numbers. None of them would give me the login information the EFTPS website said I needed to login. At that point, I sent a brief but humorous email off to my congressman (it never does any good to be discouraging or mean when communicating with federal legislators – so be of good cheer). Being a good congressman, his staff put me directly in communication with an IRS employee who is charged with assisting people like me through government Labyrinths.

I then spent an additional 3.5 hours on the phone with my empowered IRS rep, as we dialed several additional 1-800 numbers and spoke with at least four live people (aside from the computer generated voices I dealt with yesterday). I must say, having a live IRS rep try to get you through the system is like riding next to Darth Vader as your Imperial Base repulses yet another Rebel attack. You feel invincible. As such, I was absolutely confident that I would be making my 941 payment by the end of the day – no problems! Well, let me tell you – “Darth” was just NAILED at every turn of his modified TIE fighter (I really shouldn’t call her that, she was very kind and skillful and I’m sure she’s an excellent government employee). However, after 3.5 hours with an “expert”, it was decided that I should wait for my “snail-mail” letter that contained yet a new login number to use, and then get on-line. Either that or use the down-load-able same day payment form and take it to my bank to wire money for the payment. Now I have to decide what’s cheaper; my bank’s considerable charges for wiring money, or any assessed late fees if I pay when I get my new number.

This brings me to my point. I was just about to scream “DON’T YOU SEE THE INSANITY?!?” at my IRS rep when it dawned on me. This is NORMAL to her. It’s her daily job to do what she just did. She has NO relevant understanding that, for a microbusiness, it makes absolutely NO sense to spend 7.25 hours unsuccessfully trying to pay an entity. How much money have I lost not working on other money-generating projects? Of course, she wouldn’t understand. It’s her job to spend 8 hours a day doing this.

THE POINT: All business people discussing the impact of changes in their lives generated by greater government involvement need to understand government bureaucracy: they will be dealing with a level of worker that has NO sense of the value of time. The phrase TIME IS MONEY is a foreign language to them. After all, this is their job 8 hours a day.

Sadly, I don’t see a “fix” to this problem. Especially as larger and larger programs like Obama-Care is rolled out. We are truly almost at a crises point. Luke, my force is broken!

Thanks, Sam, for sharing. There are some important lessons here, and we appreciate your time and willingness to point them out.
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