Thursday, April 25, 2013

LST: Another Lovable Acronym

When I was in the Navy, LST was the abbreviation used to describe an amphibious support ship, a landing ship that could accommodate tanks of an Army or Marine Corps armored division. The abbreviation meant Landing Ship, Tank.

Fast forward to the present in East Hempfield Township which has no war, no need for a ship of any kind but their LST has just hit the scene with their Local Services Tax, a semi-generic renaming of the former Emergency and Municipal Service Tax.

I learned that this animal had reared its ugly head when I reported to work yesterday and picked up my most recent pay stub. It didn't take long to discover why my recent direct deposit was less than I calculated it should be — They started working on stealing $52 dollars from me. That's the total amount of the tax.

The tax language is clear. If the rate decided upon by the municpality is more than $10 (per year) then anyone earning less than $12,000 is exempt and the employer is required to stop the withholding of any instalments toward this tax.

Seems straightforward enough. Trouble is, though, the employee must present a request for exemption which requires knowing enough about the circumstances allowing exemption, knowing that a request for exemption must be presented to the employer and figuring out where to get the necessary certification application to be completed and presented to the employer with a copy of the previous year's W-2.

The employer (or their payroll service) KNOWS which employees earned less than the stipulated $12K last year and the year before that and the year before that. Wouldn't it be simpler for them to just simply NOT withhold the tax for those employees?

I spent more than an hour reading on line about the tax, downloading the certificate for exemption, downloading the request for refund of the amount withheld which should not have been withheld, completing the forms and assembling the packets including proof of last years earnings.

The amount withheld for the first installment was only $12 and I spent more than that (in time spent at my current hourly rate) just to stop this animal in its tracks. Had I not (and there's no guarantee I'll stop it in time to prevent another installment from being grabbed) I'd wind up being "shorted" on the next several checks.

Don't payroll services have account technicians to monitor and accountants to oversee the services they're being payed to perform? Why should a retiree working part-time to supplement Social Security have to jump through these hoops? Are attention to detail and logical thinking beyond the scope of payroll services?

I don't even live in the taxing municipality. 
Just another "Taxation without Representation" nuisance.
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LST is not an acronym. It is an Initialism. The word 'Acronym' is reserved for a group of letters from a longer title which can be pronounced as a word such as, Radar, for RAdio Detection And Ranging. The word, Sonar, for SOund Navigation And Ranging is another acronym.

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