Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who's Minding the D.C. Treasurey?

I'm worried that the Commander of D.C.'s Office of Tax and Revenue jumped ship a long time ago. I'll explain. Last January I was shocked to receive an unsigned letter from a "tax auditor" at the OTR. It was to inform me that the department had no record of my every filing D.C. income tax forms! [FYI: Since 1971, I have diligently filed D.C. and Federal tax forms.] Once the angry/nervous hot flashes settled down, I immediately phoned the guy to inform him of his misinformation. I also corrected the spelling of my name which he had spelled two different ways in his letter. Normally, I have no problem talking with people who have an accent. My own Spouse has one. Over the years, I've learned to listen more carefully to folks for whom English is a second language. However -- this guy mumbled so badly I had to ask him to repeat information several times. It was embarrassing! After all that, he did follow-through on my request to put in writing the fact that I had filed jointly with my husband for the past three decades. That letter arrived without a signature or date and without the old OTR office address crossed out. [maybe I'm just being petty about the out-dated letterhead . . ?] Our lovely CPA always does a superlative job for us, so it was a surprise when we didn't get our refund right away. The mystery was solved when I read in the Washington Post that about 3,000 D.C. residents were erroneously sent tax bills including sizable penalties and interest for non-payment. It was because someone had put the decimal point in the wrong place. Our letter was dated June 9th and received three days before this news came out. When I couldn't get anywhere near someone by phone, I immediately responded in writing including copies of pertinent information. I knew it was a D.C. OTR mistake and expected a refund check soon afterwards. Spouse kept bugging me about the refund check so, again, I tried calling OTR last Thursday. I won't go into the ugly details about time spent on hold and being cut-off. When I finally reached a human being, I explained the situation. Of course she grilled me for information and put me on hold again. After holding perhaps 12 minutes, she came back on the line, giggling I'm guessing about what someone in the office had said to her. No apology for the long hold just: "Your refund has been approved and will be mailed in the next 7 to 10 days." WHOOPEE!! I'm left to wonder if OTR would have bothered to correct their mistake if I hadn't called. When I asked about my letter and corroborating evidence, she said there was no record of it having been received. So I'm thinking we'd still be in limbo if I hadn't persevered on the phone. Maybe if OTR had to pay fines, penalties and interest when THEY were late with payment, they'd be a little more careful, eh wot?

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