Bureaucratic Hell Destroys America

I don’t have time to post this, but I think it’s important to put it down so that people can see what happens in America that will wrecks the trust people have in US government. This particular example comes from the state of Louisiana.

After a few years with no projects in Louisiana, I decided to withdraw my business from the state. Licenses fee accumulate, and without revenue, there’s just no good reason to maintain an out-of-state business certification and pay the registered agent fees. So, i contacted the Louisiana Secretary of State, obtained the correct forms, and filed to withdraw.

About a week later, near the end of October, I received notice from the Secretary of State’s office that my paper filing was not permitted: I must file online. No problem (never mind that there was nothing I could find online warning me a paper filing wasn’t permitted), I got online, registered with the SoS online system, then filed my withdrawal.

Thereafter, I received notice that the LA SoS office requested a clearance letter from the La Department of Revenue. No long after that, the DoR requested I file back taxes for Louisiana – even though I have done no business in Louisiana for the years they requested. After I looked at the complexity of the tax filing required, I contacted my accountant and engaged him to assist me. Within 48 hours, he completed all my taxes and mailed the forms to Louisiana. We are now at November 9. So far, so good.

By late November, my business is still pending withdrawal from the LA SoS, but I do see progress: i receive notice that a credit (?!) to my DoR account has been applied to 2016 tax year. Then I receive a puttance of a check from DoR for a business tax refund for 2016. Then I receive another refund – more substantial – for 2017. Those checks are dated late November and early December, respectively. I check online: still no clearance letter, and the 2018 filing doesn’t appear on my DoR account online.

December 05, I receive a request from the Department of Workforce Services to complete an affidavit affirming I have no employees in the state of Louisiana. I return that form (witnesses by a notary public) by email – as requested – on the same day.

A week passes and my withdrawal is still pending.

So… this morning I call the LA SoS to ascertain the status of my business withdrawal. The SoS office refers me to the DoR and the DoWS. I get the correct phone numbers from the SoS representative, and call DoWS. From them I learn from the first representative to answer my call that there is no record of my affidavit, so I request transfer to the person who sent me the affidavit and to whom I returned it (as instructed). After checking, she confirms that she has received the affidavit (12 days ago) and promises to send the clearance letter to the SoS. [While writing this, I receive an email from DoWS purporting to be notification that DoWS sent a clearance letter to the LA SoS.]

Next, I contact the DoR to ascertain the status of my account with them. They tell me that they have not receive my 2018 tax filing, which must be filed before DoR will send a clearance letter to the SoS. So, I call my accountant and speak with one of his office managers: she checks her records and confirms that their office mailed the tax filing. She promises to notify my accountant of the problem.

On a whim, i call the DoR again to confirm that they did not, indeed, receive the 2018 tax filing. After I explain the the DoR representative that I have checked with my accountant and confirmed that they mailed the tax filing, the representative finds that – surprise! – DoR DID receive my 2018 tax filing… but, since it was filed on a 2017 tax return, DoR automatically rejected the tax filing – but didn’t notify me or my accountant of the rejection.

I know what you’re thinking: “How is that the mistake of the LA DoR? Your accountant used the wrong form: isn’t that his mistake?” Well, that makes perfect sense… except LA DoR hasn’t yet published the 2018 corporate tax form, which means that if i want to file 2018 taxes, which I must do so that I can withdraw my business from Louisiana during 2018, then I must file the 2018 taxes on a 2017 form, per the instructions of the LA DoR.

So, now that the representative has confirmed that – contrary to previous assertions – the DoR did receive the 2018 tax filing, she promises to EMAIL the tax filing to a person within the DoR who can enter that 2018 tax filing onto the DoR electronic system.

When should I call back to confirm that DoR processed my 2018 filing and that the clearance letter has been sent to the LA SoS? Friday.

Meanwhile, I’ve delayed paying my registered agent invoice too long, so I’ll reconcile that today, and sort out prorated services for Louisiana when I finally receive notice from the SoS that my application to withdraw has been approved.

Many years ago, I lunched with my investment manager. He’d returned from Czech Republic where he’d visited the post office. The process took an hour for what I recall being some mundane task such as determining postage for a package. He blamed the leftovers of communist bureaucracy.

I don’t think this is a function of communism, per se. There seems to be a tide within most governments that creates impediments to accomplishing tasks. It’s like deposits of waste that accumulate within a circulatory system: plaque in the arteries or grease in sewer pipes. Except somehow this seems more insidious.

Our governments take up bad habits akin to eating a poor diet of affirmative action hiring, union employee privileges, ever-expanding tax codes, and document filing requirements, and then never stress the system with measures meant to flush the system of accumulated detritus clogging government with its stench of death.

We did this to ourselves. We license small variances from our ideals – we hire an employee that isn’t really qualified, we make a small change to the tax code that requires others to pay a little more so that some “deserving” class may pay less, we demand another affidavit to account for the few people who evade taxes – and we tolerate the consequences of these bureaucratic indulgences – incompetent civil servants, onerous tax forms, officially witnessed written assurances – and the consequential failures within the complex government systems ever burdened with more and more and more and more shit both human and human-contrived. But we never address the fundamental problem.

We tolerate people who do wrong. Worse, we tolerate people who intentionally do wrong. Worst, we tolerate people who do wrong because they aren’t competent to do right, and they will never be able to do right. If we ever want this country to be better, then we must start by restoring intolerance for incompetence – no matter where that intolerance inevitably leads.

Don't bother.

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