An invaluable service you need to know about*

Last night I received a letter from a branch of the federal government that has been hounding me for months. This time the news was good. 

“Dear Taxpayer:

… we’re correcting our records to show that we received your return on time. We removed the penalties and interest on your account.”

It sounds so casual. But this note relates to a dispute has been going on since last spring and has cost me vastly more in terms of lost shop time than I would have paid, had I simply written a check and been done with it. (For all of those who respond to “it’s not about the money; it’s about the principle” with “it’s always about the money,” I will politely suggest that you go and dig your own latrine, or better, offer your services escorting would-be refugees from bona fide violence across our nation’s southern border, because for many of us, it really still is about the principle, not the money.) It began with my remittance of a business tax form; no payment was required. I sent the form on time, via certified mail, but whoever opened the envelope apparently neglected to note the date of mailing.

When I posed the rhetorical question to a representative of this branch of government Why should any businessperson bother paying for certified mail, let alone take the time to go to the Post Office with a tax return so that he or she can send the return via this “certain” means? she responded “I don’t necessarily disagree with you.”

My efforts to correct the record began in May or June and turned into a cartoon-worthy case of beating my head against a brick wall.**

For insight into my state of mind, see this.

Last August, when work took me to the East Coast, I got in touch with a client from 2006. Astonishingly, our schedules meshed; I was able to visit her (and see her then-toddler, now a strapping teen, as well as meet her second-born, also fabulously strapping). During our conversation we chanced upon the subject of exasperating stuff, and she urged me to contact the constituents’ services branch of my congressperson’s office.

I did.

What’s especially poignant here is that I did not vote for my congressperson. His staff member, Jordan D.S., assured me that this service is part of the office’s job, regardless of the petitioner’s preferred side of the aisle. After a few rounds of communication, I heard from a taxpayer advocate in my state’s capital; what’s key here is that she had access to the channels of communication to set the record straight. And she succeeded in doing that.

My point is to share the truly good news that if you find yourself in a comparable situation and have evidence to back your claim up (in the face of deafness, whether willful or benign), you may find succor in a branch of government that you happen to support with every paycheck.

*with apologies to my fellow wordsmiths who strive to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. (And yes, I am aware that the title is not a sentence.)

**I was going to link to the groundbreaking 20th-century study of how you can induce depression in rats simply by convincing them that nothing they can do to improve their lot will be effective, but when I Googled “experiment on depression in rats,” the results were so many, and so recent, that I felt a new wave of depression induced by contemplating the hideousness that such experiments are still being performed on our fellow mammals


4 responses to “An invaluable service you need to know about*

  1. I can empathize entirely with your ongoing dilemma. I have spent my entire life self-employed and have faced these travails numerous times over the years. I currently am in the midst of what has been a 10 month on-going battle with the Healthcare Marketplace. They can make IRS issues feel like child’s play. Almost exclusively, all issues that have occurred were due to mistakes made on THEIR part and were proved and documented as such. I don’t even want to read about the research you’ve noted as I know it can only add to my frustration. It is indeed about principle but sometimes the financial aspect simply can’t be ignored. Congrats on your victory however short-lived it may be until until the next salvo of bureaucratic incompetence is fired off.

    • Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear about your dealings with the Healthcare Marketplace. The “beating your head against a brick wall” dimension is crazy-making, especially when you have evidence that the error was made by the other party. I wonder whether that’s something with which a congressperson’s constituent service department might help. (And I wish I could say that this was my first go-’round with this kind of problem. Far from it.) I hope you can get your situation sorted out soon.

  2. Love your blog. I know your frustration with government (state and Federal).
    I am a private duty nurse working with ventilator dependent children. I am still
    pursuing payment for services rendered in one of my clients home since 10/9/18.I am still working with this client without pay; I wish I had a congressperson to help me. I work and live in Wisconsin. My situation is not unique. My solace is woodworking, I can identify with “NCIS” Gibbs and his boat building.

  3. How frustrating. I really hope you can get the payment you’ve earned, and soon.

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