By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The Internal Revenue Service made new policy that it will no longer accept checks greater than 99,999,999.99. That’s right, the IRS is refusing a payment method from large corporations or billionaires. With the public debt growing at worrying rates, one would think they would take any money they can get. They certainly are all the more willing to accept checks form lesser beings such as average citizens and small businesses. Your author, however, is still accepting very large checks from anyone wishing to make a donation.
Reportedly, processing equipment at the Federal Reserve is unable to handle checks of the prohibited value, requiring clearing by hand. Also, in memos between the IRS and the Treasury it is claimed that such transactions would be subject to fraud, error, and theft. Realistically it shows a flaw in the federal system and harks of outdated equipment and software.
Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said: “When our indebted federal government turns down large checks for fear of fraud or mishandling, it’s time to revise processing procedures and security rather than inconveniencing or deterring taxpayers.”
The change becomes effective next tax year. A workaround proposed would be for the taxpayer to present multiple checks in order to be below the threshold.
While this proposal might sound reasonable–the IRS claimed that it processed only fourteen checks above the $100 million mark–however over time inflation very likely could bring the federal system to a clog. One order of magnitude in devaluation of the currency is all that it would take.
This is an issue that has a slight analog with the digital millennium scare. During that time older systems were hardcoded to only accept two digit years, prompting in some cases a re-architecture of some systems. Though this will be significantly longer in time, the same problem will eventually face the currency system if these problems continue to be swept under the rug.
It perhaps is time for system architects and administrators to assign larger allocations of space to forestall breakages for many years. But with so many news reports of government computer systems being twenty or more years out of date, the will to change might be difficult to summon.
By Darren Smith
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