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Got My 2011 Census Letter

Posted 2011.05.03 18.03 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather

No questions in it though. No forms. Just an URL and a ‘secret code’, really.

Wierd how this newfangled internet thing seems to be good for darn near everything, these days. So why the frak can’t we vote with it?

HST Looming in Ontario & B.C.

Posted 2010.05.31 13.19 in Pointless Blather, Work

With the HST (known as VAT in other parts of the world) only a month away now for Ontario and B.C., it’s still mighty hard to find crucial information. It’s out there, but they seem to be going to great lengths to hide it. Reminds me of the planning notice that Arthur Dent found, that let him know about his house’s impending demolishment. On display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, in a disused lavatory in the cellar, where the lights didn’t work and the stairs were broken, and a sign outside the door saying “Beware of the Leopard.”

So the information is out there, and if you happen to run a business or just need to know about the tax laws, then it’s up to you to check the government’s websites on a regular basis and dig and scrounge for information – bearing in mind that it might be wrong, outdated, or superceded next week. Eg. the Ontario government set up a toll-free number you could call to get information on the new rules. I called the number and asked some very specific questions. The answers I was given sounded authoritative and informative. Some of them were wrong, or contradicted information provided by other venues.

By and large, I don’t expect that prices of most goods or services will go up much, and I don’t expect them to go down at all. There are certain areas though where the general public can expect to receive a good solid boot to the head. For instance, the price of postage had a fairly stiff increase in January – from 54 cents to 57 cents for a normal first-class letter within Canada. This will see another jump due to the tax increase, from 5% to 8%. So a 57 cent stamp (which currently costs 60 cents) now, is going to cost 64 cents in July. Factoring the increase in postage and the increase in taxes, this means an overall price hike of  7 cents, within 6 months. Not a lot of money for a single stamp, but what if you use a hundred a month? That’s a 7 dollar increase.

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HST Lies & Misinformation

Posted 2009.12.16 12.43 in Pointless Blather, Work

So far, it looks like Ontario is still going ahead with this HST nonsense. Mostly, I don’t really care one way or another – it’s a zero-sum change for me. Being an entrepreneur and working in small business, whether the GST is 5% or 13% is largely irrelevant due to the way the tax is managed with the ITCs balancing the taxes collected.

One thing that I really dislike though, is when governments lie and mislead in order to push their agenda through.

Will the move from GST (5%) + PST (8%) to HST (13%) cost the average consumer more money? No. The 13% rate won’t apply to stuff that’s currently PST exempt.

It’ll be a huge pain in the ass for programmers and accountants etc. to get this set up for retailers’ POS systems, but generally speaking the actual tax rate isn’t going to change.

They don’t need to add lies or misinformation to sugar-coat it. What am I talking about? Specifically, this paragraph I keep coming across in the Ontario Ministry of Revenue‘s website:

Right now, provincial sales tax is paid by most businesses at each step in the creation of a consumer product. In other words, though you may not realize it, the PST is charged multiple times during the production of a product before that product reaches the store. So it can be a tax on a tax on a tax, all hidden in the cost of a product until it gets to the consumer. Under the HST, most taxes paid on business inputs will be refunded to the business — savings that can be reinvested and passed on to consumers.

I’ve been working with small businesses for over two decades. I can tell you that the PST is not charged multiple times during the production of a product. This is simply a flat-out lie.

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Four for Four

Posted 2009.10.22 9.14 in Pointless Blather, Work

I slept in again this morning. This time though, I managed to get to work right at 9:00, so I guess I’m not technically ‘late’. Actually we covered that whole ‘technically late’ thing already, didn’t we?

Anyhow, this time I have an excuse – I couldn’t sleep last night. And I wasn’t up all night worrying about the government’s machine that can detect sounds via their tax forms.

Around midnight, as I was laying in bed all cosy warm, instead of my brain going into offline mode, it switched to work mode and I had a bunch of good ideas for my Project. I was afraid that I’d forget them if I went to sleep, so I got up and started working on it.

I was really productive and worked till about 04.30 before I finally decided to go back to bed. So I think today’s sleeping-in is acceptable – the difference between 2 hours’ sleep or 3.

Now I’m at work, alert, and ready to meet whatever challenges the day bringzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Paranoid Theory Eleventeen-Dash-Three

Posted 2009.10.21 14.17 in Pointless Blather

Doing the accounting for three businesses plus my own self-employedness, I tend to fill out a lot of tax forms on a regular basis. Today while doing three sets of tax forms for one of the two levels of sales tax, I suddenly had the following paranoid thought:

Can the government detect how many times you said the word Nitwits while filling out their forms?

Not that I was saying it a lot mind you… and I certainly wasn’t referring to them. It was completely unrelated. Honest.

I envision there is some kind of machine that the tax forms get fed into… obviously it scans the paper to work out how much money you owe them, and also analyses your handwriting so they can tell if you need to be put on some sort of watch-list… but does it also have the ability to extract audio data that the paper was exposed to?

I’m going to be up all night worrying about this now…

Always Bet on Bureaucracy

Posted 2009.07.30 13.23 in Pointless Blather, Work

This is the true origin of the mythical Hydra. The seven-headed monster was actually just a euphamism for government bureaucracy. When you’re trying to get them to admit they made a mistake, when you’re trying to get a problem sorted out… every time you think you’ve beat them, two more challenges spring up before you, and the battle starts anew.

Of course, the drones with whom you communicate on the phone aren’t the actual enemy. They are merely pawns, and while they may put up a valiant fight, they may just as easily throw themselves on your sword. The outcome doesn’t really matter to them, and they know it’s hard to swing a sword if it’s got a bunch of drones stuck on it. Their job is to merely slow you down, wear you out, grind down your resolve by exhausting your ire and indignation. Like punching an enormous pillow – you never, ever hurt it and never get hurt yourself, but eventually you just can’t go on.

As difficult as it can be to engage one department in battle, when your task requires you to face two departments at once, you may as well forget it. You can’t turn them against each other, instead they each take turns playing you off the other. They won’t even talk to each other, so you end up having to run messages between them. It is a cruel, sick game, I believe.

I actually have a point to all this, a specific situation that I was going to rant about. But I’m truly exhausted after wasting another 2 hours with them this morning. Suffice to say that the process of getting them to correct their mistake is excruciating, and they’ll never, ever apologize for making the mistake, nor for wasting an hour or two of my life every week.

If they were a business, I’d take my business elsewhere.