Saturday, May 25, 2024
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The IRS Customer Service Hotline: Even Indiana Jones Couldn’t Navigate it

The feds dumped more than $80 billion into the IRS two years ago, supposedly to hire more employees and make its customer service more efficient.

I called the IRS customer service yesterday. I hoped to speak to a human with a pulse. To get from Point A to Point B to Point C (and on and on and on), I had to play the government’s ridiculous scavenger hunt, only to later meander my way through the government’s convoluted series of mazes and tunnels.

Our story begins more than three weeks ago when I filed my 2023 tax returns…electronically. 

The IRS website assured me that the members of this esteemed federal agency would deposit my refund within three weeks. That means I was supposed to have the money by last Wednesday.

Wednesday came and went…. but no deposit. The same for Thursday. The same for Friday. No bother checking on Saturday. Nothing ever gets deposited on Saturday. 

Fret not. 

Per the agency website, if no deposit came by Monday, then all I would have to do is call the IRS customer service hotline, where I would no doubt receive excellent care. 

Sure enough, Monday comes….and no deposit. 

The IRS hotline, as you might have already surmised, takes me not to a customer service representative but instead to an automated answering service. I learn nothing I didn’t already know from reading the IRS website. 

So I Google “How can I talk to an actual person at the IRS?”

After several minutes, this deep dive search produces a phone number. This search also produces a series of lengthy instructions on what buttons to push and at what prompts. Oh, and when I’m at the part where I’m asked to punch in my Social Security number…ignore it. If I do as prompted, the instructions say, then I’ll never get to speak to an actual person.  

I didn’t realize this IRS hotline had booby traps. 

I almost feel as I’m in The Goonies, chasing the corpse of One-Eyed Willie. 

Finally, after enduring elevator music for 20 minutes, an actual human picks up on the other end.  

“Where’s my refund?” I ask. 

“It was supposed to be deposited in my bank account already.”

The IRS representative asked me for my bank account and routing number? Is it possible I accidentally entered the wrong numbers when I filed my taxes?

After we established that I entered the correct numbers four weeks ago, the rep puts me on hold for 10 more minutes. 

To her credit, I was only on hold for seven minutes. 

The agent then tells me that, upon further review, I won’t get my refund until May 16.

“But your website told me that I would get my money last Wednesday,” I said.

“Yes,” the IRS rep said, “but it takes three weeks for the money to process electronically?”

This makes no sense, I said. In the private sector I could use PayPal or Zelle to send money to someone else electronically within seconds. 

The IRS rep told me she would put me on hold for another 10 minutes.

As I waited, I rehearsed telling this woman that if I didn’t do what I was supposed to do before April 15 — pay my taxes— then she and her goons in Washington, D.C. had the power to garnish my wages. They could have raided my home. They could have harassed me at my place of employment. They could have even put me in prison. But if she and her colleagues don’t do what they’re supposed to do, on time, then they have a union rep who will protect their jobs (at my expense).

But I never got to tell her those things.

Five minutes after getting put on hold, the line disconnected. Whether that happened accidentally or intentionally, I’ll never know.

The woman at IRS customer service made no effort to call me back.

Ah….to hell with it, I told myself.

I was lucky to speak to not only a human being, but one that actually speaks decent English, even though I had to do contortions just to talk to a living, breathing homosapien. 

By any reasonable measure, in this dysfunctional society, that’s progress enough. 

Special thanks to Warhammer’s Wife proofreading this story before publication to make certain there were no misspellings, grammatical errors or other embarrassing mistakes and/or typosFollow Warhammer on Twitter @Real_Warhammer. Also follow Warhammer on TruthSocial at @Real_Warhammer