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Arriving Las Vegas

travel Las Vegas
Phil Chu
Phil Chu
Making software since the 80s

I’ve moved from San Diego to Las Vegas, and Technicat is now a Nevada LLC. The primary and official reason is because it’s cheaper to live here. Lower rent and real estate prices, no state income tax, food and gas is cheaper…while I was living in Huntington Beach, I kept telling everyone the smart move was to sell my condo and move to Las Vegas, but right after I finally sold my condo, I got a contract in Hong Kong, then joined a startup in New York, and eventually meandered back to the Bay Area, down to San Diego and, now, as originally planned, I’m in Vegas.

During that last nomadic stretch in California, I found additional motivation to get out of the state. Normally, I’m a fan of the State of California. Back when I mailed a complaint about my health insurer to the state health insurance department, they responded they only deal with HMOs, but they went ahead and forwarded it to the consumer insurance agency, which was enough to get a resolution and an insincere apology from my insurer.

And after New Jersey for some reason said they had to take my California drivers license in order to give me a New Jersey one, California just told me I’m still on file so here’s a new ID (and you can keep your New Jersey license, but I just hold onto it as a reminder of how much I hate New Jersey). My new California address did get scrambled so the license got sent to a vacant lot next to a Jack in the Box, but they said it was their fault (even though it might have been mine) and didn’t charge me for another ID.

However, when I moved to San Diego and changed my address online, they only changed it for my drivers license and after realizing I’d been driving around with expired plates, I got charged an extra $100 for the registration renewal. I suspect they didn’t adjust my voter registration, either (so if Trump wins, I’m blaming the DMV). Now I’m thinking that first address screwup really was probably them.

So my enthusiasm for the DMV is waning, but the group that manages business entities is a whole other deal. It’s as if they send people no one else wants there (similar to how some of my groups have been staffed). Or it’s operated by bots (that run so badly no one else wants them).

Where it all started going wrong for me was the required biennial Statement of Information form (because annual is too easy to remember). Fortunately, they do send a postcard reminder, and it’s a simple one-page form. But apparently not that simple, or too simple, because the one I sent got returned with a comment that I didn’t list all the members, even though this is a single-member LLC — one owner, one member. So I sent it back in with my name written down in one more place, and months later, when a mystery hold of over $400 was placed on my business bank account, I had to go to the bank, then call them, who directed me to call the State of California, to find out this was for a late filing of the SOI. No warning, no explanation, no way to appeal. That’s pretty obnoxious.

In the process, the informed me I owed a lot of back LLC taxes. OK, this was my fault (and this is what happens when you decide to run everything yourself as a learning experience — education is expensive). I assumed they would send reminders like they do with the SOI. That guy told me that even though it’s a fixed $800 yearly tax (and I discovered at this point every other state charges far less), I had to first complete all the returns I didn’t file then call them back for the amount I owed. I did that, called back, and that guy told me they couldn’t give me a number, I had to mail it all in, first, and some other department would make the calculation. But the third guy I called went head and gave me a number. which turned out to be wrong (a significant overpayment).

After all that, I still received letters saying I owed taxes and faced dissolution of the LLC (which I was starting to welcome at that point), so I had to call again. Now, the trick is to select the voice menu option that says you owe them money, and then typically you’re on hold less than an hour, otherwise the robovoice says the expected hold time is several hours, do you want a callback? But apparently I wasn’t the only one with problems because even the express option said call volume is too high, try again on another day. This went on for a few weeks, and despite all the exhortations accompanying their letters to check your online account, all registrations were locked out for the past year due to ongoing security upgrades.

Eventually, they opened their online system to registrations again (and all previous accounts had to be created from scratch), and I could see my payment, with change to spare. So I called again, got in this time, and the guy explained my previous payment covering several years were all applied to the same year, so they logged a ridiculous overpayment for one year and had me past due for the rest. Amazing.

I was so annoyed I tried to shut down my LLC right then and there. Again, a simple one-page form, but they sent it back saying it was not the latest form and didn’t list all members. Again, single-member LLC and I listed me whereever I could. And it was January 2016 and the form listed 2016 as the version date, while the checklist error form they returned was a year older. So who’s using the wrong form? It would have been faster and cheaper to just not pay my taxes and let them dissolve the company.

So the first thing I did in Vegas was register a new LLC online, which took just a few hours, set up a virtual office (apparently this is easier in Nevada, too, as I see virtual offices advertised everywhere), and register a business license online, which costs $200 a year but is still cheaper than California’s $800. And I sent in the California LLC dissolution form, again, with comments stating it’s the latest one downloaded from the site and it’s just me, me, me as the company owner, member and manager. I hope this time it took.

I do miss California weather, though. And fish tacos.