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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5878/please-stamp-here/

Please Stamp Here

November 11, 2006 by

Ted Roberts
2101 Aftonbrae Dr.
Huntsville, AL 35803

Recently, I had a stimulating discussion with the IRS about some bonds which matured in 2004. The discussion had to do with the fact that X dollars worth of bond repayment was NOT, as my IRS friends insisted, a profit demanding capital gain taxes. It was simply a return of my loan of ten years ago. Of course, taxes were paid on the bond interest.

We smilingly agreed on my 2004 return, after I conceeded paying some small penalty on another accounting peccadillo that involved my Sunday School teaching: mileage back and forth to Alaska, where I donated my charitable spiritual services.

Anyhow, everybody smiled and they sent me a highly convoluted form to fill out and accompany my check. (Alaska IS 4800 miles from Huntsville, Alabama – and I taught EVERY Sunday. That’s a lot of miles.)

With the form is an envelope. And in the Northeast corner of that envelope was the only denigrating statement the IRS people had made in our two months of discussion. It insults my intelligence with the following statement: “Please stamp here. Post Office will not deliver mail without proper postage.” How true. And without gas, the car won’t go. And Walmart will not give me a pair of new shorts unless I give them $7.95 and KFC won’t give me three pieces of chicken, taters, and slaw unless I fork over $4.95. I KNOW THAT! Why do these civil servants – who want to dispute my charitable services and have a deficient knowledge of geography (Alaska IS a long way from Huntsville) – think I’m so stupid? Yes, I must put a stamp on the envelope or the envelope won’t go!

But let’s be fair and not stomp on our government friends. (I love the IRS – they read these blogs, too, ya know.) Businesses – large and small – use the same kind of annotated envelopes. I prefer the unspoken assumption that my IQ is over 70 and I’m familiar with the concept of postage. You can call collect, OK, but you can’t mail collect. Hmmm, on second thought, why not? Don’t they still do “postage due”?


David C November 11, 2006 at 12:33 pm

Chances are 9 out of 10 that you pissed off some statist somewhere who sicked the IRS on you. Are you on any public record that might indicate donation or support of a libertarian causes? Did you exercise your free speech in an anti statist way that can be traced back to you? Did you say anything that might cause your banker to red-flag you on their computers? How dare you, this is America, bending over for the IRS is a privilege! Sit down, shut up, and be thankful you have freedoms, dammit.

Jim C November 11, 2006 at 3:31 pm

Been there, done that as they say. Must have been about 15 years ago when they came at me over taxes on savings bonds I’d cashed five years earlier. My employer restructured his savings plan and I had to take possession of a modest amount of U.S. savings bonds. We added them to our filing for that year and paid the tax. Good thing my wife is a pack rat and had all the docs to save us from paying it again. About 1974, the State of Delaware came at me for unpaid state income tax on my salary while in Viet Nam (we were imposing democracy there, too). I called the local parasite and pointed out that I was not even required to pay federal tax on that income and, to my surprise, never heard any more about it. I hope my wife still has those papers because, as you note, they do read blogs.

Marwan November 11, 2006 at 8:20 pm

Savings Bonds are interesting in that the rules that govern their redemption differ within the Treasury. The Federal Reserve Bank rules are in opposition to the IRS rules; therfore, when you redeem them you are forced to do something illegal.

Proof that the axiom that if you pass enough laws everyone becomes a criminal is, in fact, true.

The good news of course is that with so many laws the enforcers can’t keep them straight either.

Zach November 12, 2006 at 1:29 am

“You can call collect, OK, but you can’t mail collect”

In the European country where I live, you CAN “mail collect”. The postal service distinguishes these envelopes based on a “Reply number” on the address.

DavidB November 12, 2006 at 5:55 pm

Proof that the axiom that if you pass enough laws everyone becomes a criminal is, in fact, true.

The good news of course is that with so many laws the enforcers can’t keep them straight either.

Problem is Marwan that if you ever get on their bad side….you’re toast!.

All they need to do is get the order to search your premises when they get the inclination to take you down because they don’t like your politics. Then they will invariably find some illegal piece of napkin that you’ve been harboring that breaks some copyright law due to a foreign treaty with Sweden that will be enough to put you in jail for the rest of your natural life.

Nat November 13, 2006 at 9:55 am

I always put the stamp right next to the “place stamp here” box.

Mark November 13, 2006 at 3:08 pm

Actually, there was a time when you could send a letter postage due, so the message informing you that the Post Office will not deliver your letter without proper postage affixed is not totally stupid.

clydesan November 13, 2006 at 3:12 pm

I hate to defend the IRS, but this notice is not nearly as silly as you think. There is a history behind it.

As I recall, there was a time when the Post Office would often deliver mail without postage (especially if no return address was on the envelope) and demand “postage due” from the recipient. Many people mailed all their bill payments without postage. In the early 1970s, I think, the Post Office changed its policy to require correct postage before delivery. Many return envelopes then started sporting the notice “Post Office will no longer deliver mail without postage” or similar language.

A car requiring gas is physics; mail requiring prepaid postage is (changeable and changed) policy.

Jeff R January 14, 2007 at 10:39 pm

I have no problems with the postal system. Where else in America can you get a dozen people working for four to seven days for only 39 cents?

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