Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Public money cutoff point

Cut down on administration charges.
  [vote for,

This may be advocacy, in which case i'll delete it.

Last week the tax office told me i had overpaid my tax by fifty-four pence. This information was posted by letter in an envelope and presumably cost them something in wages for the time taken to post the letter. In a similar incident, many years ago i received a letter telling me i was entitled to twelve pounds student grant for that year, which i didn't claim, since such a small sum would have made no discernable difference to my standard of living.

Therefore, i propose that when a payment either to be made to the government or to which a member of the public is entitled but which is less than a certain small sum of money, this should be completely ignored. This would save the government money on administration, and also increase the number of people who are entitled to a larger payment which would actually be useful to them.

nineteenthly, Nov 28 2004

UK govt stats on unclaimed benefit payments. http://www.dwp.gov....is/publications.asp
[DrBob, Nov 30 2004]


       (No, I don't think this is advocacy at all.)   

       What do you think will cost more, changing the government's software to ignore those sums, or the postage?
jutta, Nov 28 2004

       I once made a deposit in an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) and mis-added the checks, in my favor by $0.35. Since postage is more than that, the bank just gave me the 35 cents.   

       I wonder if you could make a good living that way... 35 cents at a time.   

       I like your idea.
hugesmile, Nov 28 2004

       Bank clearing operations have a concept of tolerance: if the difference is less than some amount, related to the cost of the man-hours it would take to fix the problem, then it is ignored. This is fine between banks and other institutions since, over time, the errors cancel each other out.   

       I was under the impression that the IRS and IR operated much the same way: if you owe them less than a certain amount, they'll forgive it rather than pay to have it processed.   

       As far as what the government owes you, however, that money was yours in the first place, and you want them to be scrupulously honest in returning it.
DrCurry, Nov 28 2004

       Im 15 my parents do my taxes
umm0i, Nov 29 2004

       Make it so that if the government owes a citizen some amount less than the threshold, it is the citizens responibilty to claim it. The government just doesn't start the process. They owe you money, you claim it.   

       Similar process for monies owed the government.
swamilad, Nov 29 2004

       This is covered by standard language in most U.S. Government contracts and related private-sector subcontracts (being my field of expertise; I'm sure it's standard in related contract fields.) It calls for any funds under $500 owed by either party to the other at contract completion to be considered by both parties a write-off and not subject to collection. To set an en-masse threshhold even lower as a standard would be logical.
contracts, Nov 30 2004

       In my work with the US Government (previous), our refund threshold was $5.00, and then I think we required a letter from the party owed if they chose to forgive the debt. No matter who they were. Could be Joe Citizen, another department of the government, or any other entity. $5 + a signed letter.   

       This was not contract work, so obviously had different rules. It was a major pain to deal with all the $6-100 refunds, and would benefit from some streamlining like this.
swamilad, Nov 30 2004

       I'll vote for this but only if a legal duty is placed upon the government to ensure that anyone entitled to a payment actually receives it.

(see link re: unclaimed benefit payments)
DrBob, Nov 30 2004

       My sister works in a bank, on business accounts, and she tells me that for most of their accounts there is a cutoff just like this at about $5. It is just not worth the bank's trouble to try to collect amounts of money that small. So this has definitely been baked in the private sector.
krelnik, Nov 30 2004

       But not universally. A friend had a dispute with her bank, and ended up closing her account. Or at least pulling all of her money out of her account, without closing it. She has happily recieved her monthly statement of $0.00 for years now, knowing she is costing them a few cents each time. Sure, this is one of the smallest consumer victories imaginable, but she values it.
Worldgineer, Nov 30 2004

       I think all money owed that is less than a certain cutoff amount (say $15), should be carried over to the next year, till it accumulates to a sum thats substantial, or till what you owe is cancelled out by what the govenrment owes you.
energy guy, Nov 30 2004

       I agree that anyone who actually wants the payment should be given it.
From what everyone says, it sounds like this is baked in the States, but it isn't here in the UK so far as i know. I'm not sure i do want the government to be honest if it means other people, and probably myself at some point, miss out on money they really could benefit from just because i got paid fifty pence that made no difference to me at all at some point.
nineteenthly, Nov 30 2004

       A floormate of mine during my college freshman year got a bill for $.03 in a threatening letter that claimed he would be sent home if he didn't pay. I love automation.
RayfordSteele, Dec 01 2004


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