The IRS — Putting Paperwork Ahead of People

For more than 4 months, I’ve been blogging about one of my clients who’s going through a nightmare trying to get the IRS to resolve an identity theft case involving her deceased husband.

The husband — his name is Brian — died in mid-January 2010. That’s almost 3 years ago.

I filed the 2010 tax return for Brian and his surviving spouse, Wendy, in April 2011. This is when the we discovered the identity theft. April 2011 was 20 months ago.

In October 2011, We sent the IRS some paperwork that they said they needed in order to resolve the identity theft. That’s 14 months ago.

The IRS says the paperwork we sent them in October 2011 had an error and needed re-sent. We didn’t find out about this from the IRS until November of this year. In September of this year (11 months after the paperwork was filed), the IRS had tried calling Wendy to tell her about the problem. But they dialed an old, out-of-service number and didn’t get ahold of her.

And with that, they apparently gave up.

When I talked to the IRS in November and they told me about needing the paperwork re-sent, I told them that they were being ridiculous. It’s obvious that the 2010 tax return that Wendy filed is the correct tax return. Common sense tells you that. So can’t they just process the return and pay this poor widow her refund so she can get on with her life?

The answer was no, they couldn’t. They needed the paperwork. And once we sent the paperwork, it would take up to 200 days to process! (Though the IRS rep told me it might take “only 90 days” to process since they already had some of Wendy’s info in their system.)

Pointless paperwork.

The only difference between what we sent them in November 2012 versus October 2011 is swapping out Wendy’s name for Brian’s name. This was the “error.”

A clerical issue.

So here we are. Months — YEARS — later. No resolution, because the IRS needs its paperwork to be just so.

I don’t begrudge the IRS its need for paperwork. I really don’t.

But at some point, after they’ve jerked a widow around, and months and months and months have passed, shouldn’t common sense trump a clerical issue on a piece of paper?

So that’s the Internal Revenue “Service.”

Putting paperwork ahead of people.