You would think that after losing 65% of your seized assets to the federal government – and then another big chunk to the state and city – that authorities would be satisfied with their take. Dream on brothers and sisters. The nightmare continues.
Normally when people receive a piece of correspondence from the IRS, they have a mild stroke. But for me, a letter from the agency is kind of like a kiss on the cheek versus a full-out GFE session, after what I will now and forevermore call “the visit” – the day two IRS agents knocked on my door to deliver the bad news! So when more than half a year ago, a letter appeared in my mailbox from the feared government arm, I more or less had an eye-rolling moment – and not the coronary most people experience until I saw the bill (727 k). Then I admit to a more visceral reaction.
Upon reading the correspondence, I came to realize that it was all a big mistake. The money they thought I owed would actually be coming from the Eastern District as part of my plea bargain. I was in effect being double-billed. I had all the signed paperwork in order and heaved a sigh of relief in the knowledge that a quick phone call would rectify the situation. Dream on, Dollar. This is the government bureaucracy you’re dealing with. Not a chance this is gonna go away anytime soon.
First, I called the number listed in the letter. Predictably, the matter was not in the initial operator’s domain. My call had to be forwarded up the chain of command. I was placed on hold for 45 minutes…and then got cut off. The next day I repeated the process. After sitting in limbo for 2 hours (no lie), the person in collections told me the matter was above her pay grade (so why was I forwarded to you in the first place?)…and that I should call the woman who signed Form 906 in New York – the form which says in no uncertain terms that I don’t owe that 727 k!
Aha! An office in New York! Now we’re talkin’. A live person (presumably). This will go away, I’m confident. Dream on, Dollar! (Uh! I think I already said that.)
I call the woman (who is actually very nice – though not very executive-sounding). She tells me to fax the correspondence. I’m repeating myself here from another post so quickly…she can’t handle a scanned file – and I don’t have a fax machine. So off I ride to the office where I’m close to getting strip-searched before I can go upstairs to present the proof. The woman copies all 6 pages and assures me she’ll submit them to the right person – and it will go away. But I’m not so sure. My confidence in the government bureaucracy is waning!
Fast forward 3 months and thar she blows! Another letter from the IRS in my mailbox. This one says I owe 476 k – and if I don’t respond in 3 weeks, they’ll seize the money. Oy! Back to the phones…and I have another appointment with the woman in New York. By now, Jeanette and I are friends (“Hi, Mr. Mersey. How are you?” she asks when hearing my voice on the phone. Me: “Not so fucking good. The bill is still 476 k. I gotta see you again!”)
Back to the office where I meet Jeanette and a second woman whose presence doesn’t inspire confidence. But I persevere. Woman #2 exits to crunch some numbers and returns to say “This 476 k is wrong” (duh)…”You actually owe 60 k.”
Me: “I like the direction in which we’re headed. But we ain’t hit zero yet. I don’t owe y’all anything!”
The woman: “This is interest and penalties on the balance.”
Me: “The interest and penalties stopped accruing back in 2015 by plea deal. You’ve been holding 6.56 mil for 3.5 years and haven’t paid me a dime in interest. How you gonna charge me interest rather than pay interest on what I have coming back by plea deal – all while you’re holding my money?!?!”
The first woman chimes in that she remembers the negotiation including a clause that says exactly what I’ve been claiming: That all penalties and interest stop accruing at a certain point. She then reads the paperwork but finds nothing to that effect. The second woman does the same thing with the same result – and tells me to double back to the DA or probation officer for confirmation because there’s nothing in the paperwork to indicate my claim.
Suddenly, I have a brilliant idea: “Pass me the paperwork, girls. Let me check this out!” Schmuck that I am…I left my glasses home – so this ain’t gonna be easy! Mister McGoo-like, I hold the paperwork to my face and voila! Thirty seconds later I see it. Page 2/item 8: “All penalties and interest will stop accruing on 5/31/15.” I point to the paper and hand it to the girls.
Woman #2: “Oh, I missed that!”
Me to myself: “How the fuck you gonna get this job when you can’t read – the both of youse!”
Me out loud: “Ok! So now you see I don’t owe this money. Are we done?” (fat chance of that)!
Woman #2: “Now you have to file a form 843 for abatement and send it to the address in the correspondence.”
Me to myself: “You gotta be fucking kidding me. I’ve proved on numerous occasions I don’t owe this money. Jesus H., Mary and Joseph! When does somebody at the IRS get it?”
Back to the crib I go get to work. The correspondence from the IRS office (not the one in New York) says to file “the enclosed Form 12153” if I want to dispute the bill. It says nothing about the 843 abatement form woman #2 gave me. Naturally, there’s no Form 12153 enclosed (big surprise) so I download the bad boy, fill it out and the 843 – and send the entire mess registered with a return receipt.
I email my tax lawyer (not the point man – I got two dudes from the same firm billing me for all this crap) that he can sit tight. I’ve filled out the forms and sent them registered with return receipt. He writes back “I wish you’d sent the letter registered. They lose this stuff all the time.” Holy crap! I just told you I sent it registered with a return receipt! If you ever leave the law profession, I got a good place you can go work! The IRS!
Three weeks later, we’re nearing the date of the seizure. I’ve received neither the return receipt nor my letter back! What the fuck?!?! Is this a conspiracy? Back to the phones and a scant 30 minutes later, I discover that indeed, the IRS did receive my registered letter and I’ll be hearing from them soon. Great! But what’s the point of sending a registered letter with a return receipt when I don’t get the return receipt? Oh yeah! More federal stuff!
Last week I get their response. I have filled out all the proper paperwork plus…yet no collection due process hearing where presumably, I’ll finally clear up this double-billing glitch. The letter says I have to fill out the Form 843 for each year – and to forward all the paperwork by July 12th. Wait a minute! That 843 was icing on the cake. I never even had to fill it out according to your correspondence. It was a bonus.
The letter has a name and number to reach the guy who’s getting paid to handle my situation. It lists his name as Mr. Garner. So I call “Mr. Garner” whose name it turns out is “Mr. Gardner” (note to IRS: Could you at least spell your own employee’s name correctly?)…10 times in 4 days. And all I get is a voice mail which again doesn’t inspire confidence. Think of what an NFL lineman sounds like at the beginning of a game as he tells you his name and the college where he took basketweaving and ho-hustling courses to get his degree. That’s about what “Mr. Garner” sounds like!
To date, “Mr. Garner” has not responded to my messages and July the 12th is nigh. Thus, I have no choice but to fill out the forms and send them registered with return receipt in the fervent hope that finally…I’ll get my cdp hearing and clear up what is essentially the simplest of double-billing matters. Dream on, Dollar! The nightmare continues.
Wanna know why I titled this entry “Don’t Mess With the IRS?” I think you now know!