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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, April 05, 2013

My Tax Dollars at Work

An unexpected letter from the Mass. Department of Revenue – never a welcome sight – led to a discovery: I screwed up my excise tax payment. I paid my tax on time, but accidentally designated it for 2013 (why was this even an option?) instead of 2012. I didn’t discover that the error was mine until after I’d already sent them an aggrieved email disputing their “notice of assessment.” 

Days went by with no response. I considered paying the delinquent 2012 tax while leaving the 2013 payment alone; I’d be paying tax twice this year, but I would get out of it next year. I have enough money to do that. But geez, $456 is a lot of money to throw away even if I would “get it back” a year from now. I finally picked up the phone and steeled myself to endure a long wait on hold before taking on that unique combination of indifference and impotence that we all associate with civil servants.

The phone queue took only a couple of minutes. As soon as I gave my corporate ID number to the fellow on the line, he said “Your payment has been moved.” Stunned, I stammered something about the penalty and interest. “Your account has a zero balance. You have a clean bill of health.” I thanked him and hung up. Total elapsed time: Under five minutes.

Skeptical that it could really be that easy, I logged into my Webfile for Business account to double check. Sure enough, we’re square. Unreal! I must not be the only businessman who ticked the wrong box. 

So today’s tirade against government is canceled in favor of this testimonial. The DOR discovered and corrected my error after I sent them a message that didn’t have the whole story. My only complaint is that they left me twisting in the wind for a few days rather than emailing or calling to let me know. Knowing DOR, they’ll snail-mail that information next week. 

Far from being a Reason to Hate Massachusetts, as the subject tag says, I offer kudos to the Commonwealth. Now don't blow all that money on schools.

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