A client has a small one-man show that never generates any sales that are subject to sales tax because his work is 100% labor.
California still requires him to file an annual sales tax return anyway. He completes it, shows no taxable sales, signs it, and sends it off. Later, a letter arrives taking him to task for not adding zeros to the lines where the tax was zero. Uh, Duh.
See if you, Gentle Readers, can figure this out for the friendly folks at BOE, cuz I don't think they know what those pre-printed zeros mean.
See Line 12. The one that says: Transactions Subject to State Tax followed by the Zero. Click on the picture for better resolution. Just one of those things I can't fix today. [shrugs]
He told me they ain't very nice at the Santa Ana office, neither.
These are the same folks that refuse to provide a downloadable, blank, fill-in .PDF sales tax return form that calculates the various taxes and does the math, something that I could create in about four or five hours.
Instead the fill-in form requires you to move from block to block with mouse clicks while physically typing in every single dollar figure after doing calculation by hand on a piece of paper or an adding machine. Sure, you get a nice, neat looking tax return, but the human error factor isn't any less than when it was typed or hand written. In essence, the small business owner is no better off than when forms were typed on an IBM Selectric.
So, all the little guys keep doing the calculations by hand, the BOE employees keep right on checking for math errors, by hand, and then BOE generates thousands of those letters about the math errors just like it was 1963.
One would imagine that a .PDF fill-in sales tax return that performed all the calculations would reduce the error rate on returns filed by small business to near zero. That ought to be motivation enough. Efficiency.
Good thing we don't get all the government we pay for.