Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The IRS Rant (feel free to add-on in comments)

Okay, I have to set this up a little bit as it is an ongoing problem I have been having with getting my state refund. Last year, I screwed up my address when filing online and once you enter it, it cannot be changed. Basically I mixed up my Milwaukee address with my parents zip code (brilliant I know). I realized my error immediately and called that night to make the change. The woman I talked to said there was nothing that could be done and that I would have to wait til the check was processed, sent out, returned and then would be sent back out to the correct address. I was incredulous. Because of a zip code error I was going to have to wait an extra month to get the refund. I wasn't angry though, as it was my fault.

About six weeks goes by and I still hadn't received the refund. I decided to give the IRS a call again, and it seems the woman who I had originally talked to never corrected my address, but instead had screwed it up even worse. So now my check is basically floating around somewhere, but hasn't been cashed. They decide to cancel that check and process a new one, making sure this time to get the address correct. This was two months after the original two - four weeks they say you should get your refund.

So, after two unsuccessful attempts, I finally get my refund...roughly seventeen weeks later than expected.

Round two, this year. I filed my taxes last week to make sure I got my state refund back before my two week vacation (I leave Friday) to Arizona and Colorado. I file, have them direct deposited and they tell me it will be two to three days for the state, about two weeks for federal...perfect, right?

Well, I go online to check the status of my refund last night and get a message saying "your refund has been intercepted to pay an outstanding debt to another government agency" I am flabbergasted. I have no idea what this message means, and no clue why I am getting it. The only government agency I know of that I owe any money to is for student loans, and I have those deferred right now, so no delinquency there. I have also done my free credit check so I know there are no complaints there. I was stunned.

I had to wait til 7:45 (what the hell kind of office hours are 7:45 -
4??) this morning to call, which I of course promptly did. I called at 7:45 on the button, and get put on hold where they tell me I am number four in the queue. Whatever.
Ten minutes later I get a very pleasant woman who gets my information and chuckles. She actually chuckled. "It seems that the Department of Health and Human Services has you for an outstanding debt of $30, and your return was stopped for that reason."
Okay, my return of $600 was stopped for a $30 charge to a department I didn't know existed at the state level. Calm, calm...

I asked her when the rest of my money would be deposited in my bank account, since obviously I was getting far more than thirty dollars.

"Well, once it is intercepted, the direct deposit line is broken, and we have to mail you a check. You can expect that in 6-8 weeks. Also, the HHS will be sending you a notice as to why they took your return"

I have no clue why I owe this agency $30. Zero, none, totally in the dark. All I know is that because of this $30, I will be $600 lighter on my two week vacation. Why in God's name can they not just take the $30 (I don't CARE about the thirty bucks, just give me my damn money!!) out of the deposit and give me the remainder?? Is that so freaking difficult!?!

Anyway, the point of this was more than cathartic. I was wondering if anyone has any clue how one become indebted to the health and human services department of Wisconsin. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.