I get stacks of junk mail, literally stacks of junk. Usually sorting the large piles of post bearing all sorts of variations on my name is rather boring and uneventful. The other day, however, I received an ominous looking letter from the IRS. Whenever I see something from the IRS my heart takes a little skip. In my mind it is either going to reveal really good news in the form of money, or really bad news in the form of an audit. This letter had neither, rather a letter notifying me that I had not filed for 2005. This came as a shock, as I happen to know that I did file for 2005. In fact I remember it quite well because I happened to owe a tidy little sum to the federal government. Whenever you send payment of four digits or more to the feds it scars you just a little inside, making the details easy to recall.
I called the IRS hoping to quickly resolve the matter. The previous sentence should shed some light on my naivety. Nothing is quick with the IRS, and anyone who thinks otherwise need but wait on hold just once to agree. 30 minutes of crackling Hayden, Liszt and Chopin and my call was answered. As a side note I think someone needs to invent a system where you can pick the genre of hold music...IE my Dad could pick doo-wop and my Mom could opt for Yanni while they wait. For me, monster ballads would have made the 30 minutes fly by. In any case, half an hour of poorly recorded classical favorites led me to a half bossy/half friendly IRS representative who reminded me a little bit of Nurse Laverne Roberts from Scrubs. I explained that I had filed and that I had also confirmed that the IRS had received the electronic payment. She pulled up my account and said "Yes, I can see that we did receive your [massive] payment." I foolishly jumped to conclusions with my reply of "great, then the matter is all taken care of". The matter, of course, was not all taken care of. She informed me that I would need to refile my return. I pointed out that if they received my payment then obviously I had indeed filed. I felt that I had a solid argument. However the IRS apparently doesn't subscribe to the same logic that most of America calls common sense. In the minds of the IRS because they didn't have the paperwork I must not have sent the paperwork. After about five minutes of attempting to argue my point I realized that it was a hopeless case. I joked and said I hope I don't have to refile my payment as well, no laugh, I became immediately nervous. Realizing the solving this over the phone was a lost cause and Nurse Laverne wasn't the type to push my luck with I said "well thanks anyways" and planned to hang up. I was wrong again. I could almost see her wagging her finger through the phone as she said "now you hold on there honey, I have to update your account". She put me on hold for about two minutes. During the silence I wondered what she was updating...I thought about hanging up, but the IRS is not a group I want to mess with, I have a fear that they can make life uncomfortable.
It isn't so much that refiling my return is THAT big of a deal, but just once I'd like to hear a story that ends with the IRS saying oh sorry we screwed up, let's fix that for you. I wanted that to be my story, but no. The IRS doesn't have my paperwork, I must not have sent it.