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Friday, December 09, 2011

One reader's tale of incompetence at the Internal Revenue Service

Way, waaaaay back when this blog was just getting started, I posted an essay titled "People who should be shot when the revolution comes". It was a tongue-in-cheek (kinda) piece about who in our society should be the first ones to be thrown against the wall if and when the citizens of this country finally get their fill and overthrow those who have gotten too uppity for anyone's good.

That this particular post should come to mind more than seven years after writing it, might clue y'all in on the kind of rage that I feel when I read the e-mail that one of The Knight Shift's viewers sent me recently.

I can't put it any more plain than this: the income tax is a means of economic and personal slavery. Think about how much time and energy gets wasted by millions of honest people in this country every year. Seriously folks: ever think about about what could be done productively, if all those billions of aggregate man-hours that we spend preparing tax returns were done away with?

Then there is how decent people do their best to adhere to a mountain of burdensome legislation that not even the finest tax attorneys in the land can agree on what it's supposed to mean. It's just not possible. I guarantee that if the government wanted, that it could find grounds for criminal indictment against every single taxpayer in America... only because it's impossible to meet each and every single condition of a tax code that is ridiculously volumnious!

And then there are the heartless bastitches of the Internal Revenue Service. Heck, let's name some names here: like Robert W. Nordlander, the IRS "special agent" who prosecuted a cold and cruel vendetta against ultra-marathoner Charlie Engle. Click on that link and just see if that story doesn't get your blood boiling.

I bet what I'm about to share will resonate with too many good people as well. It's what one individual submitted and asked me to pass along to this site's readers...

Waiting for me when I arrived home this evening was an "important" message from the I.R.S., saying it was "important" that I return their call by close of business today (which surprisingly to me was 8 p.m.). I was also asked to reference a "case number" when I returned the call.

After confirming the number appeared to be legitimate from the IRS web site I returned the call, despite my concerns (who wants to get harassed by the IRS?) and suspicions (that this was a scam.)

I decided in advance that I WAS NOT going to give out any personal information, so I bypassed the prompt asking me to enter my Social Security Number. After a 10-minute wait, a "Mrs. C***, ID# [deleted]" answered the phone. She asks for my SSN, and I inform her I'm not giving out any personal information. "Well, we're not going to get very far," she replied. I told her the message I received instructed me to give a case number and that I would give that, which I did.

Little good giving the case number did though, as "Mrs. C***" said she couldn't give me any information unless I gave her my name and "verified" that she was talking to the right person. I told her why not give me the name of the person your trying to reach, and I'll verify if I'm that person or not. No good.

I then mention that I find it peculiar that the IRS would try to contact me by phone rather than mail about a tax issue. (Let me say here that I've been contacted about errors on my federal tax returns before, and each of those few occasions, I was contacted by mail.)

Her explanation was that the IRS does try to make initial contact with individuals by mail based on the address that's on file with their tax return. Only afterwards, do they try to contact an individual by phone.

So I mention that the address they have for me is good because I haven't moved since I filed my taxes. And since since I haven't received a letter prior to this phone call, I must not be the person they're trying to reach. She says, "No! What did I say?"

I responded, "You said that the IRS tries to first contact individuals by mail based on the address filed with their tax return if there are issues. Then you try to contact them by phone." She says that's correct.

So, I ask again, since I HAVE NOT received anything in the mail from the IRS, may I deduce I'm not the individual this case number involves?

"Mrs C***" tells me no, that she can't give me any information unless I give her my personal info, accuses me of arguing with her, says she has other calls she needs to take and that I need to go my local tax office for information.

I could see this wasn't getting anywhere (and wasn't going to) so I ended the call. This drives me crazy and makes me mad on so many levels I gave them the case number they referenced on the message. That's all they asked me to give, and that's all I was going to give. I've "rendered unto Caesar" and filed my taxes on time every year.

Perhaps what made me the most angry was "Mrs. C***'s" comment that she "had other calls to take." Last time I checked, the federal taxes I pay (and we all pay) pay "Mrs. C***'s" salary. The least she could do was do the job I help pay her to do and be a little more helpful.

This is the kind of bureaucratic crap that was symptomatic of the Soviet Union. And the late Roman Empire.

I defy anyone to tell me that the above example is something that should be tolerated by a free people who enjoy the liberty that God has given us and that so many fought... and died... so that we might continue to have.

And I was woefully shortsighted when I came up with that list in 2004. Perhaps we should make room for soulless cretins like Mrs. C*** and Robert Nordlander. I can hear it now...

"But we were only following orders! We were ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS!!"


Kristen said...

That's annoying! I'm a government "bureaucrat," but I would NEVER EVER say anything about needing to take other calls or work other cases. I try to focus on that person's case I am working or the person I am talking to. Not only because they pay my salary as a taxpayer, but because that is a PERSON. If it's your job to deal with people, treat them like people. You may have a gazillion other things to do but take a few minutes and be courteous!

Now, that being said... knowing how the government works, by rules/laws of her office she may be required to ask certain identifying criteria before releasing information, to confirm she is speaking to the right person (you wouldn't want your personal info released to some stranger). At my office we're required to verify the identity before speaking with someone, though it's up to us what to ask (I usually ask for stuff like DOB, branch of service, since I know some people nowadays - understandably - are hestitant to divulge their SSN). Now, even if this IRS person had to ask certain things, she could've been a lot nicer and explain why she needed certain information.

It's people like that that give goverment employees a bad name. Some of us really do care about the work we do and want to help the people we interact with (we just may be bound by government regulations which prevent us from being more helpful).