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Bureaucrats of the Week: Mono County, California

I got a call today from Mono County, California.  They require us to charge our visitors a 12% lodging tax on campground stays in any of the 11 campgrounds we operate in our county, which we report on a single quarterly filing.  Today, the County has suddenly decided that they need a separate sales tax report filed each period for each campground, so instead of 1 we need to file 11.  If every taxing authority tried to pull a Mono County on us, we would have to file at least 250 separate sales tax reports each month.

In case you miss the implication of this, consider if the state of California did this for sales tax.  It would mean, say, that Unocal would have to file a separate sales tax report for every single gas station in the state - ie thousands of them each month  Of course, even California does not have the guts to require something so absurd.  We, like Unocal, register all of our separate locations with California but report all their sales and sales taxes in one unified report. 

So why can't Mono County be satisfied with the same approach?  Well, apparently a couple of their auditors had to spend some extra time trying to figure out which campgrounds belonged with which permits in a recent audit.  In order to save their auditors a few minutes of time in the future, they want to require me and others to spend many extra hours with these additional filings.  This is typical of government bureaucracies, which in doing cost-benefit analysis put enormous value on their own time but value taxpayers time at $0 an hour.  If all the reports I file had to be justified while valuing taxpayer's time at even $50 an hour, I would have a lot less feeding of the government to do.  More on my efforts to feed Vol (gratuitous Star Trek reference) here.

Posted on July 25, 2005 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

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