The IRS needs to get better - we have an idea!
As the executor of an estate, I have been waiting for a refund check since April. As pen goes to paper, it is the end of August. The beneficiaries have been looking forward to their final distribution (with a nominal amount held back for estate income taxes, of course!) for months. After seven weeks, I called the IRS toll-free number to try to find out what was going on. The first few attempts were unsuccessful because the system was overloaded, and I could not get through.
I finally reached an agent and was told that the refund check had gone out in April. That’s funny. I never got it. The agent told me to complete Form 3911 (Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund) and send it to a Kansas City address and fax the form in advance. I followed the agent’s instructions. The fax didn’t go through because the fax line was overloaded.
As instructed, I mailed the form to Kansas City (although if I had checked the IRS website, I would have known to send it to the Cincinnati office for estates and trusts). Of course, I sent the form by certified mail return receipt. The return receipt came back about a month later.
Two weeks went by, and I heard nothing. I called a toll-free line and reached an agent on the third attempt. That agent told me I had sent Form 3911 to the wrong office. The first agent I had spoken to had steered me wrong. The Kansas City office probably discarded the form without notifying me.
This was a disappointing development. Most organizations, including courts, return paperwork with a note if there is an error. I wanted to get this settled as quickly as possible because if another heir passes away during this IRS-caused delay, my job as an executor will become substantially more complex.
The second agent told me to send Form 3911 to Cincinnati, which I did, by certified mail of course.
The certified return receipt came back about three weeks later. I waited two more weeks and, on my wife’s advice, decided to try to get an appointment at a local IRS office to find out what was going on. I got a telephone number for my local IRS office and scheduled an appointment.
When I showed up for the appointment, I was “wanded in” for security. The security guard asked for my confirmation number (which he identified by an unintelligible term of jargon). He then handed me a number and told me to sit down. When my number came up, I was called to an agent who behaved like a genuine DMV Queen. She, of course, made no apologies for the IRS and threw all the blame back on me. I finally got past all the bluster and learned that 1) the refund check was uncashed, 2) my second Form 3911 was received, and 3) the receipt of the Form 3911 triggers a stop payment on the first refund check. There is nothing I can do now but wait “another” 30-60 days for my refund.
There are several problems with how the IRS handled this matter, but I want to focus on the one thing they could have done that would have saved a lot of time and trouble. Instead of just throwing it away, the Kansas City office could have either forwarded my first 3911 to the correct office or at least returned it to me with a note telling me to send it to Cincinnati. That’s what any responsible and responsive organization would have done. Even courts, who are public entities like the IRS, give filers that courtesy.
There is a Taxpayer Advocate Office at the IRS with its electronic equivalent of a suggestion box. The website is https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/submit-a-tax-reform/. Another site that is not part of the IRS but does forward suggestions to the IRS is https://www.improveirs.org/submit-a-suggestion/. Both sites take you to the same webpage. I will try using this page to call the IRS’s attention to its appalling customer service and see if it makes any difference.
Of course, the best way to ensure that no other taxpayer is ever subjected to this kind of slipshod and uncaring “customer service” from the IRS is to pass the FAIRtax and abolish the IRS entirely.
Let me know if you have any suggestions to “improve” the IRS.
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