In a comical display of government inefficiency, the IRS says it can’t process big checks and is forcing those who pay $100 million or more in taxes to wire that money or perhaps count it out in pennies.
Just how many Americans have a tax bill that high? This year, the IRS deposited 14 checks that were greater than $99,999,999. While we don’t know the names of those individuals because of confidentiality, they are likely to be corporations and investors. The Treasury Department as reported an increase in large-sum checks recently – perhaps as a result of the stock market. But the number is small enough that it makes you wonder just how inefficient the government must be to need wires instead of checks.
Apparently, the IRS doesn’t have processing equipment to handle checks greater than $99,999,999. Anything seven digits or greater must be manually processed. To reduce the amount of fraud, theft, or error the IRS is asking that everyone get the word out that they can no longer process such checks. You read that right, in a frantic memo, they urged officials to spread the word in as many media outlets as they can between now and the last day of the year.
What are these taxpayers to do? They can make two trips to the IRS with smaller checks or send the money electronically.
It’s ironic. The rapacious IRS is not able to handle its own haul, as the Washington Post reports:
Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said: “When our indebted federal government turns down large checks for fear of fraud or mishandling, it’s time to revise processing procedures and security rather than inconveniencing or deterring taxpayers.”
On Capitol Hill, there was little sympathy for people who will no longer be able to write enormous checks to the government.
“I have a lot of envy,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y. “I don’t know if I have sympathy for someone who’s required to pay that kind of taxes.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said he wishes he made enough money to pay $100 million in taxes.
[Anti-high tax activist Grover] Norquist saw irony in a government facing a deficit rejecting large sums of money.
“You’re trying to write a $100 million check to the government and they’re treating you like dirt?” he said. “These are your customers. If this was Las Vegas, they’d give you the suite and a bottle of champagne for free.”
In the grand scheme of IRS ineptitude, discrimination, and wrong-doing this falls pretty far down the totem pole. However, it’s telling that the IRS can’t process the payments its forcing big tax payers to pay. Will they then penalize those taxpayers who don’t get the memo and send their checks as usual thinking they’re in compliance? Hand, meet forehead.