Thursday, October 4, 2012

Government stupidity

Government stupidity. 

Yeah, those two words are redundant.  But here’s a TRUE story.

Many years ago Puffuffnick owned property, went belly up in a spectacular way, both financially and personally. His executor was left trying to clean up the mess.

One of his properties was needed for a local government project, and the local government offered a very good premium price for the property.  Unfortunately Puffuffnick had some IRS problems – they had put a lien on his real estate and that had to be paid off as part of the closing.

Simple:  ask the IRS for a payoff or their agreement to release the subject property on payment of all proceeds, right? 

Nah.  For two months a bunch of lawyers tried to get the IRS to simply acknowledge the request. No luck.

So Puffuffnick’s estate sued, in US District Court:   Estate of Puffuffnick vs IRS.  The suit said, simply, “Judge: we own this property and the IRS has a lien on it.  We’ve sold it and we want to either pay them off or have them agree that they get all the money and will release the lien. Make them answer us”.  

This sets in motion the typical government response:  “Motion to dismiss because you can’t sue the government”.  And they fly a lawyer to Roanoke from DC to appear before the Hon. James Turk to get the thing dismissed.  The hearing went sorta like this:

JUDGE:  Mr. Government, it seems that the Puffuffnick Estate wants to pay money to the IRS.
GOVERNMENT:  Judge, you can’t sue the government.  We want the money, but you can’t sue the government and this case needs to be dismissed.
JUDGE:  Well, why don’t you simply agree to release the lien and they send you the money.
GOVERNMENT:  That has to go through channels.
JUDGE:  They’ve tried that for months and no one’s giving them any answer.  They need to get this deal closed.
GOVERNMENT:  You can’t sue the government.
JUDGE:  Well, isn’t the sale for a fair price?
GOVERNMENT:  Yes it is for a very good price, but you can’t sue the government.
JUDGE:  So if the Government sued and this purchaser offered this money, the government would take the money and agree to it?
GOVERNMENT:  Yes, but you can’t sue the government.
JUDGE: So you can’t sue the government but the government can sue Puffuffnick’s Estate?
GOVERNMENT:  That’s correct, sir.
JUDGE:  Fine.  Take this complaint and go to the US Attorney’s office on the next floor; they’ve got white out and typewriters.  Put IRS as plaintiff where it has Puffuffnick as plaintiff, and Puffuffnick as defendant instead of IRS.  I’ll then enter the order approving the sale, release of the lien and payment of proceeds to the IRS.
GOVERNMENT:   But . . . um . . . sir . . . um . . .
JUDGE:  I suggest you git up there now.
GOVERNMENT:  yes sir.

And so it was done.  And the next day the Roanoke Times headline read:  “Government gets judgment against Puffuffnick Estate”.

You can’t make it up, can you?