While we all know it’s no fun dealing with the IRS, an agency hardly synonymous with “efficiency,” unfortunately every American taxpayer must. Any business run like the IRS would be out of business. Even the largest, clumsiest of corporations perform better than them. Certainly we’ve all had a frustrating encounter with the IRS, and the one that just happened to us truly illustrates how totally incompetent they are. Normally I write about branding, design and business issues yet this is something we all can relate to.
We did our taxes and sent in our forms with an enclosed check. Taxes done. Huge relief. Now we can get on with doing productive things, until…here comes a letter from the IRS. This can’t be good. Anyone get a letter from the IRS? Did you dare open it? No, it just sits there in the pile of mail like a really bad bill. At some point you slit it open to see if you are about to be audited, or hauled off to jail. Fear rushes up the back of your neck as you read these wonderful words.
“Failure to pay proper estimated tax.”
Uh oh, so we blew it somewhere. Let’s see what they say we did wrong. In their billing summary I see fines, I see interest charges and I see we failed to pay the penalty! Terrific, we just got the notice and already we’ve failed to pay the penalty! Hey IRS, can you give me a day or two before fining me for not paying the fine. Wow.
So here is what we did wrong, bad citizens that we are.
We over paid the IRS $2!
Guilty! No more hiding. We are indeed among those horrible taxpayers that are out to cheat the IRS. Instead of crediting or writing us a check for $2, they fined us once, then again in the same letter for not paying the first one. Did they think we were slipping them a $2 bribe? It gets better.
We got charged interest on our overpayment! How is it when you give someone too much money they can charge $3.48 in interest? Shouldn’t they pay us interest for holding our money?
In the end the bill was only $15.27. The whole thing is completely ridiculous yet for 15 bucks I’m not going to argue with them. We all have better things to do so we paid it. Story doesn’t end yet.
A day after drafting this post, I got an unexpected refund check from the IRS—for $15.28, noting $.01 interest. For all this I got paid 1 cent, the post office got paid $1.35 and the tax payer lost in every way.
Surely people have experienced much worse dealing with the IRS than this. What are some of the “fun” experiences you’ve had with them? I wonder, could any other business operate this way and be successful? Not a chance.
Gary Epis & Amy Bond