..Jon Simonds..

Internal Revenue Service
The Basically Brooklyn Series

Since the appointment of GW to the White House, I have been twice audited. Neither audit, had anything to do with the former President, but the mere mention of the previous administration does serve to give an idea of the timeline of these most memorable events.

Audits are funny things. I personally think they are designed to keep money from leaving the Treasury, rather than preventing it from getting to where it should go. Both Audits were fruitless for the IRS as I ended up receiving my full refund, though not at the expected time.

My greatest memory of each audit was the customer service rep. They were the nastiest individuals I had ever encountered, one going so far as to refer to me as, "you people!" My other fond memory of the IRS is their inalienable right to hang up on you if you so much as raise your voice a single octave.

Being hung up on by an IRS rep is worse than having them hold onto your money, because it condemns you to having to call back at another time. You have to call back. They are the IRS.

"Those people" have your money. You dial the number and get the message. "Press 1 for English." This is followed by, "Please enter the 3-digit extension you would like to reach." You are next informed as to how long you must wait. "Our customer service agents are assisting other customers. Your call will be taken in the order in which it is received. Your estimated wait time is 2 hours, 47 minutes and 16 seconds." As if that isn't bad enough, you have to listen to crappy government issued music designed to calm your nerves as you wait. There are nine digits on a phone. You'd think one of these automated systems could give you music to select from. "Press 1 for the hits of Sinatra, 2 for Salsa, 3 for patriotic songs...

Have you called the IRS lately? All that has changed, now. We have a kinder, gentler Customer Service Agent. We have a more understanding Internal Revenue Service. My tax return was withheld again and, in all honesty, I thought it would be. Several months ago, when I first lost the last steady job I held with a business flattened by the economy, I received a notice from the IRS over some funds I neglected to state as an added source of income. In other words, I cheated and got caught. I called and informed them I had lost my job and was surprised to find I would not be bothered again until I was gainfully employed.

While I haven't found a job, I did file taxes and it turns out I am getting a $982 dollar refund, which is great when you are unemployed. Two weeks after being informed my return was on the way I received a letter from the IRS stating there was a problem and I needed to call. So, I called.

I hated hearing the press 1 for English message. I knew what was coming next and raced to punch in the 3-digit extension, cutting off the automated prompt. When we finally reached the estimated waiting time, I nearly fell off my chair. "Your estimated waiting time is approximately five minutes." I couldn't believe it. All that stimulus money was finally paying off. Even more unbelievable was the Customer Service Rep that came to the phone. He was nice.

He wanted to know if I was working, yet. I told him, no. He explained my being unemployed keeps me on the no collect list. However, he went on, this also means you are on the no return list. This, of course, meant I was not getting my tax return.

"If you'll give me a minute I can tell you that, this tax return equals 50% of your tax debt. So, it's good you have decreased your tax debt by 50%. You're still not working so you will remain on the no collect list. This means no interest penalties."
"I assume I am also on the no return list, in the event of any future return."
"Correct, sir."
"You can now put me on the no food list."
"I'm sorry, sir?"
"The no food list."
"I don't believe we have a no food list."
"You should start one."
"And why is that, sir?"
"You are holding the money I have slated for my next $982 Dollar Value Meals."
He said, "Food stamps, sir. You can apply and go on the no hunger list."
"You really did have classes on customer etiquette."
He said, "Yes, sir."
I miss the old guys. At least they knew when to hang up on you.

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