Sunday, March 21, 2004


So two weeks ago I'm talking to the manager of one of the closing WOTC retail stores. I have a retail store, I tell him, and I would be interested in buying a certain amount of things from the store at the 40% off price they are offering; but I need to not pay sales tax on it. He says, sure, just bring your tax number with you.

Saturday I go there, intent on buying, and a copy of the tax form I have displayed in the store is with me. The 18-year-old kid behind the counter looks at the form like it's written in Tagalog, and mumbles something about having to call the manager.

He comes back and tells me that this is not the right form. It says that I am entitled to *collect* sales tax, but not that I'm allowed to buy without *paying* sales tax. I tried, as gently as I could, to explain that there is no "right form." There is only a tax number, that's all the taxing authorities need. I tell him that I need to talk to the manager.

The kid tells me that the manager will be there in an hour, and I agree to come back.

An hour later the manager is not there, but the assistant manager is. He tells me that the manager thought I represented a charitable or nonprofit organization--where he got that idea I don't know--but that he couldn't waive the tax for a business.

At that point I gave up and bought nothing. I understand that there is no legal requirement for them to sell to me without sales tax, but they wouldn't admit that it was even permissible.

It was one of those moments where you are dealing with people who have no idea what they're talking about, but all they know is that they won't let you win. What's the old saying? "Against stupidity the gods themselves strive in vain."

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