13 June 2010

The Empire Strikes Back

"Cue Scary Darth Vader Music"

I apologize to my readers for not being around last week but I was pre-occupied with another matter. Last Sunday, my wife, our children and I returned from a long weekend in Toronto. The trip to Toronto was a lot of fun and coincided with my son playing in his final hockey tournament of the year (thank goodness.) We had a great time visiting some of the landmarks of that immense city and enjoyed watching the high level of competition that the Canadian teams my son played against provided. A side trip to Niagara Falls was wonderful, as always, and I must admit that I never get tired of seeing the power and majesty of that incredible natural wonder.

Then we arrived home.

I was going through our mail when a business card fell out of the pile. I picked it up and was shocked to see that it was from an agent of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. "What the fu..." I muttered and put it in my pocket. There was no note, no letter, nothing written on the back of the card. The message was clear- we were here and we were looking for you.

Since it was Sunday night, the stress was heightened considerably. I couldn't call them to see what was going on since no self respecting state bureaucrat would be working on a weekend. I slept fitfully that night and spent most of the morning from 3 AM on wide awake, wracking my brain to see what could possibly be the problem. I always file my taxes, always pay what is due. I may not like it, but I'm smart enough not to give these thugs reason to come after me.

First thing Monday morning, I emailed the agent and passed them the name of my tax attorney. Owning my own business, I have used the same tax attorney/CPA for years. I called my attorney and spoke to him about it. He was amazed that they would send somebody to my house since he knew as well (after all, he does my accounting) that all of my paperwork and payments were spotless. We didn't hear anything from the agent until Tuesday morning.

The state claimed that I had failed to file 3 years of corporate tax returns. No, my attorney said, my business is organized as an LLC and I filed that way correctly for the past 3 years. Yes it's basically bullshit admitted the state agent, but we need those 3 years of corporate returns anyways. So, my attorney drew up the forms, I signed them and $ 450.00 dollars of his expenses later, I am once again squared up with my friends in Harrisburg.

A couple of points to ponder. This was an infinitesimally small tax matter when compared to what the state is trying to collect from other businesses and individuals. Would such a small matter warrant sending an agent to my house or is there something deeper going on ? Has my vocal opposition to the Stalin like tactics of the Department of Revenue triggered this episode ? I'll leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. If my writings were the impetus for this little episode of state intimidation, I feel totally justified in stating that my rights as a free citizen of this state and country have been violated. Sending an agent to your house is so much more invasive and intimidating than a certified letter or phone call- they are invading your space and the message is clear that they know where you live.

I didn't post for a week because I had an internal debate on whether this is even worth it. What's the point of trying to stick up for the downtrodden, the dispossessed and the victims of state tyranny when nobody seems to give a damn ? Why stick my own neck out and invite state retaliation when 99.99 % of the sheep inhabiting this state and country are more worried about the new I-Pad than the steady destruction of their civil liberties ?

I run Google Analytics to see where my readers come from in terms of city, state and country. I do it for no other reason than it is fun to see that I have readers in places as varied as Finland, Quebec and all over the United States. Interestingly, I get a great deal of activity from Pittsburgh which is where I live. Most of my friends and family don't know I have a blog which can't account for the steady readership that I get from the city. Maybe it's the local office that the revenue agent works out of. If so, I'd like to thank all of them for reading my blog on the public dime.

I guess I write this blog for people like you Mr. Revenue Agent so that maybe, someday, you will see the evil criminal organization that you need to investigate most isn't the one around the corner- its the one that signs your paychecks.