Thursday, May 11, 2006

A new level of evil at the IRS

I received a sad little check last week from the IRS. It was certainly not the refund I was expecting. Confused, I quickly skimmed the accompanying letter. Apparently, the IRS had decided that my son does not qualify as a dependent and so had changed my status from "head of household" to "single." It's true: The Kid is precocious, but I'm pretty sure he still qualifies as a child.

My strategy with the IRS has always been similar to my strategy with cops:
  1. Look the other way.
  2. Never, ever call attention to yourself.
  3. Whistle. (Because only upstanding, law abiding citizens whistle.)

So it was with great trepidation that I picked up the phone and voluntarily dialed the number listed in the "What to do if you disagree with this change" section. Of course, I was initially greeted by a perfectly harmless automated menu. I made my way through the never ending variations of "if you are calling to ____, please press 2 now" and entered my social security number at least 3 times, and then was asked to enter the proper code representing my filing status. Without thinking, I entered the code corresponding to "head of household" to which the friendly automated voice told me, "I'm sorry, that selection does not match our records." Click.

Yes. That's right. An automated voice hung up on me.

Undeterred, I called back and made my way once again through the menu, this time taking great care to enter the code for "single" when prompted for my filing status. My reward was being placed in queue, where I was assured every 120 seconds that my call was important and I should definitely stay stay on the line because hanging up now and calling back later would surely elongate my wait time. And, as greater reward, I was treated to The Nutcracker Suite while waiting my turn. I HATE The Nutcracker Suite... especially in MAY. And it wasn't even the entire suite. No, that would have been too kind. Instead, it was Waltz of the Flowers. Over... and over... and over. At the end of the first flower waltz, we moved into Beethoven's Fifth. Then back to the waltz. Then over to Mozart. Then the waltz again. And so on and so on. I was on hold for precisely 38 minutes. That's a lot of Waltz of the Flowers.

Finally, I was treated to a real live person who was surprisingly much nicer than I would expect possible of any IRS phone operator at tax time. After chatting with her for several minutes we determined that the error was due to an inaccurate social security number entered for The Kid. I was told that such an error would take twenty minutes to correct, and that I would need to stay on the phone for the duration. Keep in mind, I've already spent 20 minutes getting through the auto-menu and 40 minutes on hold. And The Kid, who isn't real enough to grant me a few tax breaks but certainly real enough to make a phone conversation difficult, was hungry and in need of something more to eat than Spiderman fruit snacks. So, at the suggestion of my friendly operator, I made the gut wrenching decision to hang up and start again another day. Ugh!

That day was last night, and I went through the entire process again (though, thankfully, this time without Waltz of the Flowers). I answered a battery of questions and think the problem has been rectified. But, since they won't contact me if they run into any problems, I have to call back AGAIN to be sure everything went through okay.

If I didn't have a couch to pay off, the refund would not be worth this torture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've gotta tell you, The Nutcracker on hold for hours like that...

It isn't merely cruel and unusual, it's much more serious and sinister.

It's a big joke with the IRS people, and a direct insult and expression of contempt for you, the lowly piss-ant taxpayer.

I can see how being subject to the wrong information repeatedly and the Nutcracker Suite over and over could eventually induce someone into committing a crime of horrific proportion. And they'd get away with it, using The Nutcracker Defense.

Hey, it worked with Twinkies.

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