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Author Topic: Hidden Taxes... ever considered these?  (Read 3127 times)
CodeTRUCKER
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« on: October 19, 2010, 12:12:41 PM »

This morning we went on an errand to a local government office.  When we arrived we were instructed that the office we were visiting did not provide the necessary forms.  When asked what we were supposed to do we were told we would have to print them off the Internet.

In consideration of this it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government via...
  • The use of my computer.
  • The use of my paper.
  • The use of my printer and ink.
  • ... Well, you get the idea....

Given that we had already been taxed on all of these items and more associated with this singular transaction, it was clear something was amiss.  Imagine any non-governmental business trying to pull these shenanigans!

I'm not sure WHAT we can do about any of these types of oppression.  I have always suspected some things were amiss, but at least our eyes are wide open now.
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

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mwb1100
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 12:46:53 PM »

it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government...

I'm not sure I've ever seen the word 'subsidizing' applied to a government function before. Can a government function be subsidized?  Isn't the entire government subsidized?

Anyway, the usual mode for this kind of thing is to charge a fee for whatever transaction you're performing (presumably the cost of the forms necessary would be covered by part of the fee).  That's been happening since the dawn of governments.  What would irritate me more about your situation wouldn't have been the cost of the paper and ink, but the fact that I would have wasted my time and energy dealing with the office and not been able to do what I went there to do.
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Veign
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 12:48:29 PM »

Sounds very typical of most places now a days.  I get most of my 'forms' online.  Most have fields setup so I can complete the form, print, and save a backup in my electronic file system - IMO, much easier to deal with.

oppression?  Little harsh.   I see it as advancement of technologies...
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 12:50:08 PM by Veign » Logged

CodeTRUCKER
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 01:11:03 PM »

it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government...

I'm not sure I've ever seen the word 'subsidizing' applied to a government function before. Can a government function be subsidized?  Isn't the entire government subsidized?
I probably should have said, "...it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government beyond the usual taxes...?"

Quote
Anyway, the usual mode for this kind of thing is to charge a fee for whatever transaction you're performing (presumably the cost of the forms necessary would be covered by part of the fee).  That's been happening since the dawn of governments. <emphasis mine>
Agreed, but my point is those fees have not been reduced, but the cost of forms, etc. are now covered by the tax-payers too. 

Quote
What would irritate me more about your situation wouldn't have been the cost of the paper and ink, but the fact that I would have wasted my time and energy dealing with the office and not been able to do what I went there to do.
Alas, due to the "mechanizing" of understaffed government office personnel that don't care any more plus labrythian "Press number 4 for..." phone mazes, I have given up trying to get clarity on what is required when I arrive.  I just do a modicum of online research and take my best shot.  Having to drive back home to get Item "X" is just part of doing business.  Ever see "Colossus The Forbin Project?"
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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

An Open Letter to My Friends


Notice: - Unless stated otherwise, I receive no compensation for anything I post here.
CodeTRUCKER
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 01:42:17 PM »

Sounds very typical of most places now a days.  I get most of my 'forms' online.  Most have fields setup so I can complete the form, print, and save a backup in my electronic file system - IMO, much easier to deal with.

oppression?  Little harsh.   I see it as advancement of technologies...

Hmmmm... would it be fair to say, "advancement of technologies" = shifting costs = hidden taxation?

Wikipedia says, "Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner."  While I agree in spirit the term "oppression" applied in these circumstances of only requiring additional pennies per instance from tax payers could be viewed as a "little harsh," I have always been sensitive to the amoebic advance of Gerrymandering governments in the last six millennium.  The problem is by the time "oppression" is recognized it is generally too late to do anything substantive to combat its advance.

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I applaud those that refuse to commit "intellectual suicide."

Truth, unlike opinion, tradition, etc. will always be able to stand on its own.  Truth is not a static, but a living entity and will perpetually impart life; therefore, any "truth" that does not or can not impart life can not be Truth.

I am persuaded the only reason bad men have succeeded is not because good men have done nothing, but that good men did not do enough.

An Open Letter to My Friends


Notice: - Unless stated otherwise, I receive no compensation for anything I post here.
Veign
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2010, 01:56:13 PM »

Hmmmm... would it be fair to say, "advancement of technologies" = shifting costs = hidden taxation?

No. Everything gets more expensive.  You don't know the financial impact on an organization/company by automating, or eliminating, paper forms.  You're in no position to say that the reduced cost of forms hasn't caused a lesser increase in costs somewhere else within the organization.  It probably has.

The fact of the world we live in.  Technology moves us forward and with that comes changes to the way things are done.  It's not always a 'gotcha' or 'gonna screw you over' thing.  Its things moving forward.

There are things I do now that have no other way but electronic.  If you don't have access they provide it in the office.

(fyi: I create web-based applications for companies, including insurance companies, to reduce internal costs and overhead.  My direction is to remove paper forms and processing.)
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2010, 03:50:12 PM »

Actually I have been far too aware of these types of issues.  They have been doing things like this to the military for some time.  I can't get my leave and earnings statement from the military anymore, now I have to download and print it out.  This doesn't do anything but shift the costs to the individual instead of the organization.  Sure you could say they save on postage, except they still employ the same postal workers and they don't pay for stamps or anything, so there is no savings of cost there.  Maybe there is a savings in envelopes, but I doubt it given the bulk of envelopes they buy.  I know for my company, the cost of envelopes, stuffing, paper AND postage all costs less that the retail cost of postage - and most of that cost is the bulk rate we receive on postage.  The military is a MUCH larger organization, so the cost benefits would not be less and probably would be more.  In the end, since this is a required piece of paper for each individual to have printed out and available at all times (more or less), I get around it by just printing it on the unit's printers.  However, I am not in the majority at my unit, and I think if that is the case around the country, then the military is using this huge cost savings by passing it on to the individual.  To me, this is not right any more that what the OP stated.  IF it is REQUIRED, then it should be PROVIDED.  If it is optional, well then all bets are off.
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steeladept
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2010, 03:51:56 PM »

The fact of the world we live in.  Technology moves us forward and with that comes changes to the way things are done.  It's not always a 'gotcha' or 'gonna screw you over' thing.  Its things moving forward.
I generally agree, but when the methods change due to technology, but the processes do not (such as the requirement to submit a paper form), then I disagree - that is when you are just cost shifting and screwing the end user/customer.

(fyi: I create web-based applications for companies, including insurance companies, to reduce internal costs and overhead.  My direction is to remove paper forms and processing.)
Question for you though - in your applications, do you FORCE the end user to print it out and submit it, or do you also provide a way to submit online as well.  The former is where I have problems, the later is completely desirable (in my opinion).
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 03:54:40 PM by steeladept » Logged
Veign
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2010, 04:10:23 PM »

(fyi: I create web-based applications for companies, including insurance companies, to reduce internal costs and overhead.  My direction is to remove paper forms and processing.)
Question for you though - in your applications, do you FORCE the end user to print it out and submit it, or do you also provide a way to submit online as well.  The former is where I have problems, the later is completely desirable (in my opinion).

All applications have PDFs to download and print.  Applications are being converted to online version but that takes time and money and some applications simply don't have enough applicants to justify an online version.
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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2010, 04:18:37 PM »

In the Netherlands (when I was doing my bit in the service) the post that went to our men and women overseas was free, the national (but commercial) postal service took care of that, even if that had to go through other countries postal services. That was a nice gesture from them.

But for all other post that had to go to non-military places a special machine had to be used to "stamp" the post. And those were very costly, not because of the machinery, but for the money they were allowed to stamp. I believe it was for the machine in the relatively small army base (on average 3000 people) where I was posted, about 60.000 euro's annually.
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2010, 05:05:37 PM »

Requiring people to print forms (at home presumably) shifts infrastructure costs as well. It's not just paper and ink. It's having a computer, printer, and Internet connection. The costs for those are around $3,000 at the low end ($2,000 for an Internet contract over 2 years, which is standard, and about $1,000 for a computer and printer).

While technology is supposed to lead to cost savings, those savings almost invariably are only reaped by organizations (governments, companies) while consumers end up paying the same or more.

CodeTRUCKER, you've got a legitimate complaint.

But I think the general principle is at work elsewhere also. i.e. Technology reduces costs that most often get pocketed by organizations instead of being passed along to consumers.

Take your telephone (land line) for example. Have the costs for it declined significantly? Likely not. Have the services or quality increased significantly? Well, not in proportion to rising costs. We still get the same crummy sound quality as we had about 50 or 100 years ago. Telecommunications is one area where technology has increased massively. But, on the consumer end, what benefits have we seen? Well, Internet yes, but not in actual telephony that's not tied to the Internet or mobile. And mobile telephony still offers the same poor sound quality as land lines.

Technology just provides new ways to increase profits. It's not a vehicle to increase quality of life. Or rather, it's not used to increase quality of life as compared to how it is used to increase profits.

When it comes to government, this is simply wrong. It's understandable that companies would increase profits as they are psychotically dedicated to increasing profits at the expense of everything else. But government? No. That's simply wrong.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2010, 05:29:37 PM »

What do people without a computer do?
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2010, 05:47:51 PM »

What do people without a computer do?

Presumably those without their own internet have to queue up at some free dispenser of internet access. In the US it's the Public Library.  I like the online access for doing mundane things in a hurry, such as driver's license renewal etc..

But when that access is the only access it gets a bit weird. One of the side-effects that causes people to put up with government is the thought that at least it provides some jobs as people do those public service tasks.  But now they're going to automate away the jobs and still charge the fees and baksheesh. You get the worst of both worlds if you don't have broadband. Sad

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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2010, 06:29:57 PM »

Interesting thread: thanks!

I work in Local Government and we are seriously under funded, in fact, the whole funding model has moved (slowly and inexorably) from a tax based system to a user pays system. I'm certainly not happy about that or the inequalities it creates, but it's the flavour of the moment in Australia.

We are certainly moving toward online acceptance of forms / applications, but it is very slow. We provide all our forms both on line and at our various offices. Thankfully you can call our Call Centre, talk to a person without navigating any audio promps and request a form to be mailed out for free.

I think codeTrucker's point is entirely valid. If was my office, I would have expected the person "helping" to access the form (on line if necessary) and print it out for them (all free of charge).

In my ecconomy, if a form is available on line, the costs of accessing and printing it out should be compensated by the time required to visit the office to obtain the forms personally. Saving time saves money: it's your choice (well, hopefully you have a choice).
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 07:55:20 PM »

In consideration of this it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government via...
  • The use of my computer.
  • The use of my paper.
  • The use of my printer and ink.
  • ... Well, you get the idea....

...

I'm not sure WHAT we can do about any of these types of oppression.

You claim the costs involved on your Tax Return, that's what I do, so I don't end up paying any more tax than what I should, (of course that's a purely subjective amount Wink ).

If you already do your Tax Return via computer then you should already be claiming some of its cost as a tax deduction - you add a little more.  Same with the printer and its supplies.

About the only thing you can't claim is your time, (in Australia anyway).
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 07:57:21 PM by 4wd » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2010, 09:42:11 PM »

In consideration of this it occurred to me I was subsidizing the government via...
  • The use of my computer.
  • The use of my paper.
  • The use of my printer and ink.
  • ... Well, you get the idea....

...

I'm not sure WHAT we can do about any of these types of oppression.

You claim the costs involved on your Tax Return, that's what I do, so I don't end up paying any more tax than what I should, (of course that's a purely subjective amount Wink ).

If you already do your Tax Return via computer then you should already be claiming some of its cost as a tax deduction - you add a little more.  Same with the printer and its supplies.

About the only thing you can't claim is your time, (in Australia anyway).

Can you claim the computer, Internet connection, and printer and supplies as a tax deduction? That is, you are forced to print the forms yourself, so you are forced to have a computer, printer and Internet connection, so what's to say that you didn't purchase it all for the express purpose of doing your tax forms? It may seem a bit assanine, but it is perfectly possible. After all, fight fire with fire, right? cheesy
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4wd
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« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2010, 10:41:07 PM »

Can you claim the computer, Internet connection, and printer and supplies as a tax deduction? That is, you are forced to print the forms yourself, so you are forced to have a computer, printer and Internet connection, so what's to say that you didn't purchase it all for the express purpose of doing your tax forms? It may seem a bit assanine, but it is perfectly possible. After all, fight fire with fire, right? cheesy

That's pushing your luck a little far if they decide to audit you, (eg. 'Why do you have so many games installed on your business computer?")  Grin

But you are within your right to claim any usage for your business or on their behalf, (eg. they want you to submit form XYZ obtainable by printing the downloadable version on their website), as a tax deduction.
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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2010, 11:54:05 PM »

As 4wd says, in Australia you only get to claim Tax Deductions when an activity is used to generate income; ie generally a business... and even then, it'd be an appropriate percentage for shared items. Mobile Phone usage is a classic...

We can claim the Accountant's fee for preparing our tax returns. We can claim debit interest and accont keeping fees for personal accounts that generate income.

I don't think we'd be able to claim computers / printing costs / etc for printing out forms for personal activity.
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