I had a real zoo of a week last week - one of those stretches I have every once in a while in business where new items were being tossed into my queue far faster than I could take care of them.
One of the most amazing was courtesy of the state of Florida. Almost exactly a year ago, I submitted some backup data on my Florida revenues in 2006 to an auditor for sales taxes. Such audits are entirely usual and routine (if irritating) and come up with some regularity. There was no way the auditor could have figured out my tax submission from what I initially sent him - I would have to spend time explaining what different categories in my revenue reports and GL meant. Further, I had data on seven locations which are divided in the tax reports into two county reports, but he did not have the data for which should go to which.
Well, I never heard from the guy for a whole year to clarify these issues. Not sure what he was doing, but he was probably screwing up somehow, because on Friday his supervisor called me and told me that the statute of limitations was almost up on 2006 and they needed to complete the audit. To this end, the auditor had submitted to her some mess of a set of numbers (see my comments above, he couldn't have done a correct job no matter how competent he was since he never asked me for all the information he needed). I can see the guy rushing around trying to cover his ass having probably forgotten about it for a year. Anyway, I told the lady that the statute of limitations was her problem, not mine, because her employee initially contacted me a year ago and had been sitting on the case all that time.
Well, I guess I was naive. It turns out the statute of limitations is in fact my problem in the power imbalance that exists between me and the state of Florida. She told me that, admitting she had no basis for doing so, she was going to file a lien against me for $40,000 in unpaid taxes as a "placeholder" to get in under the statute of limitations. Yes, this would trash my credit and my legal standing and cause me no end of problems having a government lien on my company, but it would circumvent the horrible situation that when they actually did the work they should have done a year ago, I might owe taxes they could not collect.
Of course I told her this was BS and of course that got me about nowhere. After a lot of time, I got one concession. If I could prove I was clean by Monday, they would not issue the lien. Well I spent all Friday, Friday night, and Saturday working up the analysis that is supposed to be their job, working on a 1 business day deadline because they had pissed away 250 business days sitting on my case file. Completing the analysis, I calculated I under-paid taxes by just under $7. We will see on Monday if I am able to battle back against this absurd thuggery. By the way, we are being audited everywhere by local governments hoping to dredge up a few pennies from the couch cushions. It is taking so much of my time that I actually chose to back off of bidding on a couple of new projects -- no time to spare. So much for stimulus.
On the bright side, I have a lot of good stuff saved up to blog but I did not feel like it on Sunday. Instead, I spent some time soldering switches and other trackwork on my n-scale railroad. Made good progress, only about 3 more switches left to build on this module (the switches below are obviously before painting and adding wood ties. Examples of finished work is here).
Update: By the way, I operate in red states and blue states and cannot detect any real difference in how arbitrarily I am treated by the state bureaucracy (with the exception of California, which stands alone at the top of the list of state bureaucracies that are a pain to deal with). They differ in laws and tax rates, that often make red states more hospitable, but their bureaucrats are all about the same.