To this day, I still love getting physical, tangible, U.S. Letter Carrier delivered mail. Of course, these days that is becoming increasingly scarce (Postal Service shutdowns notwithstanding) as most of my communications arrive via electronic mail.
However, there’s one envelope with my name and address that I never like to receive: an IRS-sent letter. The IRS never sends anything pleasant like a thank you card for paying taxes on time or a birth announcement from a random IRS agent. No, it’s always, “Hey you didn’t do something correctly and you should fix it before we send in men in black suits and sunglasses over to your place and garnish your cats for past due taxes.”
As you can probably guess, I was the recipient of a mailing from the IRS. It came three days after I filed our taxes; I was initially surprised that they would respond so quickly, but then I realized that if they are owed money they really want to get it as fast as they can. I guess fortunately for me, the letter wasn’t in regard to the tax returns I has just submitted; it was in regard to a $7,000 bill that they think I owe.
There wasn’t really anything that explained to me why I owed the IRS $7,000, just a very threatening letter stating that I should pay VERY SOON or have my wages and cat’s kibble garnished. Also included was a table stating the amount due, the amount owed, the interested owed (!), the date from which it was owed (September 2011), and a reference to IRS Form 941. Form 941 is used by business to report quarterly taxes for their employees. The problem? I have never had any employees, EVER, and certainly not in September 2011.
I spent the next day at work on the phone with various IRS representatives (sidenote: if you ever have to call the IRS, have something else to do because you’ll be on hold for a LONG LONG time). The letter was sent by their ACS department – Automated Collections System. Getting information from was difficult because none of the information matched up, and I’m not even sure they was supposed to divulge as much as they did. I found out that someone may have transposed numbers somewhere along the way; the EIN (a social security number for businesses) belonged to me, but all of the other information on the account pointed to a business in Buffalo, NY. I’ve never been to Buffalo, NY. I’m in Chicago.
After I had the proper information, I wrote a letter and sent it via certified mail to the IRS contesting the whole thing. I was relieved to get letter in return from their investigation department stating that they received my letter and that they are investigating the matter.
But a few weeks later I got another letter from the ACS department, this time telling me WITH GRAVE CONCERN that I need to pay the taxes NOW. Obviously none of the IRS departments talk to each other. I spent another few hours with IRS representatives making sure that they actually did receive the letter and they won’t take my cat’s kibble or my wages. Thankfully, I was given another 90-day “hold” from any more harassment from the ACS department. Hopefully the department investigating this whole thing will tell the ACS department to CHILL THE F**K OUT.
Today is about halfway though my “hold” period and I still haven’t heard any decision from the IRS. I know that this is a HUGE misunderstanding and I hope that they realize it, too.
Have you ever been the victim of other people’s mistakes? How did you fix it?