Dear IRS: This Is Why We Hate You

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

So I never got around to updating you on my feud with the IRS. (See here, here, and here).

Quick summary to catch you up: Last year, the IRS rejected my tax return due to a “faulty Social Security number”. Apparently, someone else had also filed under my number. I then engaged in an increasingly frustrating series of letters and phone calls to try to get the damn thing straightened out. All on my own time, and at my own expense. But it wasn’t my mistake. The whole situation was complicated by the fact that I moved a couple weeks after filing, and no matter how many times I told them this, no matter how many times I asked them to change my address in their files, they kept sending all updates and notices to my old address.

After my last update, many of you suggested I call the IRS help line. I did. It was a really frustrating conversation. I explained the situation to the woman, who then replied, “Well what do you want me to do?”

I replied, “I’d like you to help me get my refund, and to get this corrected so I don’t have to go through it next year.”

To which she replied, “Oh, you’ll almost certainly have to go through it again next year.”


“Because if someone filed under your Social last year, they’ll probably use it again.”

“But that’s why I’m calling. Once I prove I’m the rightful person using that number, can’t they make a note to make sure that in the future, the return with my name on it is the only return they’ll accept under that Social Security number?”

“They can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because they can’t.”

Pause, as I bite my lip.

“So what would you like me to do?”

“I want you to help me get my refund, and make sure I don’t have to go through this crap again next year.”

“Yes, but what do you specifically want me to do?”

“Well, I don’t know. I don’t know what you can do. I don’t know how the IRS works. Clearly they have my address wrong. I’d like them to change it. And I’d like them to make sure whoever filed under my number this year doesn’t do it again.”

“Yes, but what do you want me to do? You have to tell me specifically what actions you want me to take.”

“Again, how would I know that? You’re the taxpayer advocate. Aren’t you supposed to know that?”

These quotes are taken from memory. So they’re obviously approximate. But it went on like this, with me getting increasingly angry, she getting increasingly obstinate. I finally gave up. (I am proud to say I didn’t use a single, goddamned profanity during the entire conversation.)

A few days later, my refund came in the mail. It had been sent to my old address, of course. A former neighbor was kind of enough to forward it to me. Which means it had actually been sent before I called the taxpayer advocate. Yet it still wasn’t noted in whatever computer screen she was looking at. Or it was, and she didn’t tell me. This was last December. So it took eight months to get all of this straightened out. They also paid me about 15 dollars in interest.

A couple weeks later, I got another notice from the IRS. This one was sent directly to my new address. Hey, they got it right! What did it say? It was a reminder that on my 2010 return, under penalty of law, I am required to report and pay taxes on that 15 dollars I “earned” in interest while the federal government held my refund.

Here’s the punchline:  I just learned tonight that my 2010 return has again been rejected due to a “faulty Social Security number.”

Which I guess means I’ll now get to do this all over again.

If you’re looking for a bright side here, the “taxpayer advocate” did correctly warn me that the IRS would once again screw up this year. So if nothing else, I guess federal employees are at least pretty competent when it comes to predicting the incompetence of other federal employees.

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60 Responses to “Dear IRS: This Is Why We Hate You”

  1. #1 |  Cyto | 

    I’m not following the bit about 47% not paying taxes being a good thing…. having such a large percentage of the electorate with no skin in the game is a manifestly horrible thing IMHO…

  2. #2 |  spiro | 


    What’s keeping you from putting as many exceptions on your W-4 as possible, and NOT paying any taxes next year?
    If they already have another guy paying taxes with your SSN, aren’t you more or less off the IRS radar. Do you even exist anymore?
    This would be even easier if you are independently employed. Then, I just wouldn’t file at all, and see what happens……
    After all, they only gave you the wrong SSN bull AFTER you sent them a tax filing.

  3. #3 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Tax Man;

    Every Senator has a sizable staff for doing constituent work. They know from long experience that the Senator that doesn’t is a Senator likely to have a bunch of free time on his hands after the next election. This is the kind of thing that they LOVE to help with; it is well within their power and there is no actual down side…..nobody is going to vote against them because they pulled the IRS up short. It isn’t like getting a green card for somebody’s cousin, that could get spun against them.

  4. #4 |  Randoms of the day « Foseti | 

    […] I’m on the subject of bad arguments from libertarians, Radley Blako is having IRS problems. That sucks. But it sounds no different than any interaction with a large […]

  5. #5 |  Al | 

    Dear blogger,

    Your problem is that you’re calling the wrong people. The people you really need to be calling is the Social Security Administration to get your number changed. IRS employees are shackled from inspecting your prior returns unless you’re being audited due to understandably strict privacy rules, and besides, do you really want that happening? Once your return reaches legal scrutiny, your return is being reviewed by people who are paid to care about how much they can collect from you.

    Sincerely, former tax attorney

  6. #6 |  solinox | 

    A friend of mine has suggested that you contact the Social Security Administration about getting a new number. It might be less hassle than continuing to deal with the IRS over this number.

  7. #7 |  Frustrated with the IRS | 

    Bottom line is some of them are incompetent and idiots. Apparently, the IRS hate to admit when they are WRONG and want to send honest folks through the ringer, but give the criminals all the breaks (remember hearing about the tax refunds sent to prisoners). Go figure.

  8. #8 |  John C. Randolph | 


    Radley, why in the world are you giving the greatest deadbeat of all time an unsecured loan? Never let them withhold one penny more than you have to.


  9. #9 |  Tash | 

    What has always been a bug up my butt is that ssi starts estimating your benefits from when you turn 18. Come on please! Where is all the cash that was taken out at 15, 16,17 on our part time,after school or summer jobs go. Or for those of us who had to start working to support ourselves before 18 years of age?
    Some fat rat is leaning back in his government issued office chair smoking a stoggy think “man I sure no one figures this one out and saved pay slips 40 some years back”

  10. #10 |  “Did you Google this or anything?” | The Agitator | 

    […] It’s August 18th, and I still haven’t received my 2010 federal income tax refund.) Digg it |  reddit | |  […]