Category Archives: tax+privacy

“new” ideas in revenue

A friend of Russell writes:

Stephany is having an interesting problem with the California Transit Authority, and someone on one of your lists or blog might have some advice on how to proceed.

In the last two months, Stephany has received three traffic citations for blowing through the Golden Gate Bridge FastTrak lane without paying. They bill her for the unpaid toll ($5) plus a fine ($25) that must be paid within 15 days or her DMV registration will become attached.

The problem is that Stephany never is anywhere near the Golden Gate Bridge nor crosses the toll plaza (something she can prove when the supposed violations took place), never mind blowing through it without paying. And as is the case for such things, you are guilty by default unless you take the time to contest it. She contested the last two, which they cleared, but she just received her third one in several weeks and now she is quite pissed.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. Whether the cause is incompetence or malice, this is harassment under the color of authority that she is forced to take the time to deal with. The people at the Transit Authority are stupid and unresponsive; they have no reason to give a damn and one gets the impression that this happens all the time.

There are two open questions:

1.) Has anyone else been getting these bogus citations?
2.) What is the best way to generate enough pain for the transit authority that this abuse stops?

Comments and suggestions are welcome, and it would be particularly interesting to know if other people have had the same thing happen to them. I’ve found a few references on Google to other people getting these inexplicable citations over the last couple months, but it seems that some people just pay them rather than deal with it. It would not surprise me to find out that these things are being sent out randomly, trawling for revenue from people to[o] lazy to fight it since the fine is not that steep.

and:

Steph sees no reason to anonymize this. She wants this to stop, and it seems the only way to do that will be to inflict some pain on the transit authority. The citation states that the “toll surveillance system” shows that the vehicle in question committed the infraction, but that they are routinely incapable of providing evidence of any type makes this claim doubtful.

It smells like a revenue fishing exercise, and such scams are not without preceden[ts].

Suggestions are invited.

I could live with that

A is for Anonymous:

All Vespuccian citizens have the right to keep their biometric information (their photographs, fingerprints, retina prints, etc.) strictly apart from their financial information (their assets, debts, account numbers, etc.). A Vespuccian driver’s license has a photograph of its owner, an inscription certifying ‘this person is licensed to drive any automobile under such-and-such a weight’, and all the other usual accoutrements of driver’s licenses — but no name. . . . Vespuccian passports do have both photographs and names, but only because other countries refused to accept anonymous passports. In practice, those passports have whimsical names and improbable birthdays.

trying not to advertise where I sleep

In the heart of Anytown I happened to see a sign advertising mailboxes for $13/month, so I went in, as my old mailbox on Market Street is less convenient now than in 1997 when I was nearby every day.

“The person who rents out the mailboxes won’t be in until tomorrow. Meanwhile let’s see if I can find you the forms . . . . You’ll need proof of residency in Anytown. Yeah, the Post Office requires it.”

Damn. That’s new. My terrorist cell will be so disappointed.

How do you get mail if you have no fixed address? What if you sleep elsewhere but spend the day in Anytown? What if you’re about to move to Anytown but don’t yet know exactly where you’ll be living?

Cui bono?

tax matters

Carl Worden writes in Sierra Times:

Now pinch yourself and review this astonishing turn of events: A highly trained and educated federal prosecutor in Memphis was unable to convince 12 American citizens that Vernice Kuglin was required to pay federal income taxes. He was clearly unable to produce a single section of the Tax Code to that end, and the jury was unanimous in clearing Kuglin of all charges against her. If the foregoing was not so, Kuglin would have been convicted.

I remain puzzled. Continue reading