IRS Consumes, Regurgitates Tax Return

Are all IRS agents soulless goons? Apparently not!

Reader Alyson H. — an impoverish college student (is there any other kind? — wrote us in with what starts out to be a nasty horror story of the IRS, anaconda-like, slowly gobbling up more and more of her tax return. But it all turns out okay, thanks to some great IRS representatives, who slice open the snake’s belly from the inside and hand her back her cash!

Alyson’s wonderful story after the jump!

Hi, I love the site and I wanted to let you know about my bad then good IRS tax experience.

I filed my taxes at the beginning of February. I used complete tax (which is a pretty good site if you have fairly simple taxes) and was prepared to get back about $1100. I am a poor college student so I was stoked that I would have some mad money to put away. Two weeks after the time my refund was supposed to have been deposited into my account I still didn’t have it. I checked where’s my refund and found out that there was a delay.

I called the IRS (they picked up quickly) and a fairly nice guy told me I hadn’t filed in 2001 or 2003. Ok, so he faxes my W2s right then and I fill out the tax forms and send them on their way. I knew I would be losing a bit for penalties for 2003 but in 2001 I was due for a $600 refund that I wouldn’t get. At least there were no penalties for 2001.

A few weeks later I get a letter saying they are taking $250 out for 2003. Fine.

Months later I still haven’t gotten my refund. I look online and their site says I am getting $266 back instead of the $800+ I was expecting. I call the IRS (long wait) and the guy tells me there was a “math error” on my part and I owed them $550, which they took out of my 2005 return. I should expect a letter soon.

As of yesterday, no letter, no explanation. I call last night. It took a while but I got this nice lady who sat on the phone with me for 1 hour while we tried to figure out what the hell was up. She had no explanation other than the “math error” which was unspecified. She couldn’t see why it would have changed so drastically. She offers up her supervisor who she says is “very nice”. Supervisor is awesome. She takes my info and puts me on hold while she does the math. Comes back to tell me it looks like an error on their part. She says she will fix it and get me the full $800+ refund in 3-4 weeks. I say “you promise?” She says yes and takes my home phone number in case of any problems.

Time will tell if I get the refund but I was so pleased at these two women who took the time to help me out. The $550 is a huge amount to me and I am so happy I called and didn’t just accept the “math error” explanation. So there are at least 2 IRS CSRs that are helpful and nice.

Great stuff, Alyson! Thanks for the story. And just a reminder that if you’ve got a story or complaint, we’re always listening: