or at least I think it's me: I don't suffer fools gladly. In fact, given a choice, I don't suffer them at all. But every now and then, I am blessed - or cursed, depending on how you look at it, to cross paths with a bona fide fool who, for one reason or another, sticks to me like glue. The partciular fool to whom I refer today is a client who has a small business. Now, mind you, I have been advising this person on this small business for over two years and I have dutifully and painstakingly explained a) the difference between operating as a corporation and being self-employed; 2. the importance of paying oneself a salary from said corporation while paying the required payroll taxes and filing the necessary payroll tax returns on a quarterly basis; and D. the necessity of filing an annual report with the State of Florida by April 30 of each calendar year (cost: $150) to remain a corporate entity. I have explained these three elementary concepts on at least six occasions using essentially the same language at each meeting. The fool made copious notes on various scraps of paper, nodding her understanding all the while. And so I was quite surprised the other day when I received an email stating the intention of the State of Florida to dissolve said fool's corporation for failure to file an annual report by the April 30 deadline. Fine for this offense: $400 - plus the original $150 annual fee to reinstate the corporation. Now - I diligently remind all of my clients to file their annual reports - and I actually file the reports online for my bookkeeping clients. I called this fool on April 28 and left a detailed message, giving specific instructions about the annual report, its cost and the penalty for failing to file. My clients are all adults and ought to take responsibility for themselves. Most do. A few don't. So when I saw this fool, she gave me the information for her 2010 tax return and I tried to ascertain how she wanted to file - as self-employed individual or as a corporation - which, given the fact that she went for an entire year without depositing any funds into her business account, and did not pay herself a salary from the corporation - was a no-brainer. She is technically self-employed, and not a corporation. She cannot fathom the difference and the tax repercussions of failing to take advantage of her corporate status. Assuming she had given up on the corporation, I asked why she had not filed her annual report. "I didn't know," came the reply. I reminded her that I left a message about the need to file on time. Her response was to burst into tears and suggest that we write the state a letter asking them to waive the fine because she "didn't know." At that point, I was ready to come unglued. I do not know how stupid people survive in this life. This is a terrible thing to say, but no amount of explanation, education or wishful thinking can make a stupid person smart. I decided right then to just shut up and let the fool do her own foolish thing. Right or wrong, I've vowed not to explain anything else, not to answer any more questions and to definitely not give any more advice. I have a choice not to suffer this fool any more - and I am glad.
4 years ago