The Infernal Revenue Service

Yep, that’s the name of the U.S. Government agency that is responsible for federal income tax, business tax, and whatever-else-they-tax. Lately, the thing that this agency has been taxing me most on is my patience.

I have completed 49 individual federal tax returns for senior buds over the last six weeks or so. I have even filed my own and received a small but appreciated refund. I prepared all of these filings electronically using software I purchased for that purpose.

Now that all the individual returns are done, I am focusing my sights on returns that I file for not-for-profit organizations on whose Boards I serve — and who look to me to file those tax returns. I also file returns for small businesses that I own and operate with my partner.

That’s where the IRS becomes “infernal.” They have mailed me only one form for one organization, but I need five for five separate organizations. I also need forms for the small businesses. Okay, so I go to their website to download the forms. When you visit the website, you have to surf all over the place to find the forms (fortunately, their search feature worked pretty well.)

When I clicked on the forms I wanted, only one of them would work. Two produced an error message saying that the on-line version of the form was corrupted and “could not be repaired.” ummm… have you ever tried to find where to report such a problem on a huge government agency’s website? I found the on-line form, and explained the problem. I have to credit them — they responded within an hour. They sent a “stock answer” that they must have cut-and-pasted from a reference library, saying that I needed to use the most current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Well, I am using the latest version, and told them so. Doesn’t matter, they have done their duty by responding, regardless if it indicates that they really didn’t read what I wrote.

I then opted to call on the phone to request that the forms be mailed to me. The forms are not due for another month, so I have time.

Their phone system is one of those super-annoying “press-or-say this-for-that” type of thing, with instructions repeated in Spanish if you don’t respond quickly enough. 16 menu options later, the line went dead. Arrggghhh!

Another 16 menu options later, instead of losing the connection, I heard a short burst of tones, which I presume was a transfer to a live human being. After a pleasant music-on-hold 20-minute wait, I reached an operator and relayed my request. She was very helpful and courteous. It was the automated systems that were less so.

Oh well, such is life with big bureaucracy. I’m sure I am not the only one trying to call the IRS these days.