Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Tax Day Story

If you're stressed over your taxes today, I thought I'd tell you a little story about what's going on with me. It might make you feel better.

No, I'm not trying to meet the tax deadline today. We've already filed. Already paid. Twice in fact. That's right. TWICE!

On March 31, I efiled our tax return and paid what we owed--a fairly substantial amount, at least for us--with my debit card. I only get paid once a month and that was payday, so I bit the bullet and sent the money. I received a confirmation email that our tax return was accepted. Received a receipt for the payment. Went to online banking and saw that the payment had gone through, taking most of my balance with it, on April 2. All was well.

Then came April 9. I check my online banking every morning just to make sure everything is okay and I haven't forgotten to record something. On April 9, I got quite a shock. I was severely overdrawn. Overnight, my remaining money for the month had disappeared.

You've probably guessed it by now. My payment to the IRS had gone through a second time.

Can't you just see where this is going? Yes, that's right. I was now going to have to communicate with the IRS and try to get my money back.

I spent an hour on the phone with them and with folks from the bank that day. An hour in which everyone agreed it was the same transaction, same transaction date, same amount, and same reference number. Everyone admitted it was a simple mistake.Want to guess how simple it's been getting my money back?

The rep on the phone told me they would get right on it and the money should be back in my account within a week. I frankly thought a week was unacceptable. And why should it take so long? Folks don't seem to have any problem taking money OUT of my account. If I go shopping on my lunch hour and buy something with my debit card, the charge has gone through by the time I'm back at my desk. And if the clerk at the mall makes a mistake, I simply hand them my card and they reverse the incorrect charge.

So why can't the IRS do that?

The story gets even better. Yesterday was the fifth day since I was told I should have the money back within a week. I got home and checked my mail. I had a letter, with a form attached. An affidavit that I must complete, sign, and return to them swearing that I have a right to have this money returned.

Uh...excuse me? They take my money, and suddenly I have to swear on an affidavit that the money is mine?

But at least they appear to be working on it.

Hmm...Maybe I shouldn't have published this until after I get my money back.