I just encountered an absolutely classic bit of government think. Here is the background.
In Florida, on each night stay in the campgrounds we run in Marion County, we collect a 6% state sales tax, a 0.5% county sales tax, and a 2% tourist development tax, for a total of 8.5%. Until this month, we reported and paid all three taxes to the state of Florida on one simple return. The state then divvied the money up to the counties. Apparently, this latter process could take up to 90 days before the County got their tourist development money.
The County commissioners of Marion County did not like waiting 90 days for their tourist development money. Remember, this is not general revenue money, but supposedly trust fund money that must be spent on tourist advertising and the like. Also, recognize that 90 days for a government body to disperse money is pretty normal - I find I often have to wait as long as 6 months to get a check out of the feds.
Anyway, the County wanted its money faster. So it decided to collect the money itself. First this involved more staff hours and designing a new online collection system, costs that are completely incremental because the state of Florida was performing these functions before (and still are performing them). Today, it now requires two systems and clerical staffs to collect money that was once required by just one.
Already, this seems like idiocy to any business person. Is adding a whole new staff and systems really worth getting money 90 days faster? I guess it is possible, but even if one could argue this point, we now get to the real government-think. Because there is no way anyone in whatever cost-benefit trade-off they ran considered the time and effort that would be required of individual taxpayers. Even in my small company, this will now require extra clerical labor each month as well as an initial system reprogramming to add the extra tax authority. If one considers thousands of other businesses in the exact same position, the amount of investment is enormous.
But in my experience, when running cost-benefit trade-offs, the government never, ever considers investment and time required of the citizens who must comply. I have seen governments make changes designed to save a few man-hours a month in their own clerical departments that cause thousands or millions of man-hours of extra work among taxpayers. A year or two ago, Mono County, California forced us to go from one to twelve reports each month for our lodging tax payments just to save auditors a few hours work every three years. And do you know why? Because the government treats us all as serfs. As far as they are concerned, our labor is free, because they have the power to compel us to do whatever they ask without compensation.
Postscript: Here is my other Florida county tax collector pet peave. All the tax collectors in Florida put their own personal name all over everything. Their web site is not "marion county tax collector" but "George Albright, Marion County Tax Collector." Their stationary has this man's name all over it. When I right a check to them, I am supposed to include this man's name. I hate this kind of public employee self-aggrandizement. It is a blatant use of taxpayer money to try to aid one's next election chances, and it is a waste of money when a new person comes in office because every piece of printed material must be thrown out and reprinted. This seems to be fairly unique to Florida. Look at the Marion County links for other states in the same search and you don't see the same thing going on in those states.