ARRRGH! The IRS!
The Internal Revenue Service has been trying to be more approachable and friendlier, and I must say, the IRS HAS definitely improved on both in the last 5 years, but there’s still as much red tape as there ever was. And here’s an amusing example…
I was paying my bills yesterday, and remembered I needed to send a check for taxes owed a couple tax years ago. I, admit, I had been putting it off for a couple months because I was mad at having to pay it – again. It was an extra amount on top of the 20% I had already put aside for cashing out an IRA early (I had to pay my mom’s funeral somehow).
But, manning up (or womaning up really), I realized I didn’t know what to write on the check. I’ve sent them money several times for money owed, that they’ve always returned to me – and there’s nothing more frustrating than getting a check back for the amount you wrote them that you owed.
So, this time, I thought I’d be smart and ask them WHAT needed to be on the check for them to take it. Easy, peasy right?
So, I spent two and a half hours on the phone. After calling and waiting about 20 mins (fast!), I finally spoke to a really nice lady – who wouldn’t give me the info I needed. After I answered all the security questions, and told her I just wanted to know what to put on the check, she said, “Just a moment, I want to take a look at it.” Then she said, “This doesn’t add up, I don’t think you owe this amount! But let me send you over to the California office and a different department so they can see for sure.”
Maybe I didn’t owe that? Ok! Now that’s the IRS working on my behalf. I happily waited another half hour to get the other department.
This lady was even more thorough than the last one. “No, no, I think they’re trying to tax you twice because you didn’t put the tax amount on the right line. Here let me recalculate it – no, no, I don’t think you owe this amount…” Ok… It took a long time, but still, this was great, right? The nice IRS people were saying I didn’t owe the amount I thought I didn’t owe anyway (which I never brought up by the way), and she was such a nice lady like the other one, that I really felt like I was in good hands. Until…
“But, I need to send you to a different department just to make sure – they’ll take care of it.”
I waited the longest wait yet for the third department. When I finally got someone, and after doing all the security questions for a third time, the third lady says, “WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO GET OUT OF PAYING YOUR BILL? YOU KNOW YOU OWE THE IRS!” I tried to explain what the other two ladies said and kept getting cut off.
Finally, about half an hour later, I got it through her head that I had ONLY called to figure out HOW to pay the bill – that I wasn’t disputing it, that I had just talked to some nice ladies in other departments that thought I didn’t owe it.
And then she became much nicer. And finally, after listening to a heated half an hour of explanations about figures and tax forms, the stupidity of other departments, and other things I don’t care about and just didn’t get, I got an extremely thorough answer to my question.