If You Ask Me To Call… The Reply

In my last blog entry I wrote about the Connecticut Department of Revenue Service. They sent me a letter about taxes, but weren’t prepared to handle the onslaught. I blogged about it, then sent a link to my blog to their Twitter account.

A few minutes ago I got an email from Kevin Sullivan, DRS Commissioner. For those who think government is totally uncaring this email will change your mind. Here are some excerpts.

Geoff: First, my apologies for your wholly unsatisfactory experience trying to connect with DRS. We actually do a pretty good job of handling thousands of taxpayer contacts but sure blew it with this one and several more this week. If you will excuse the metaphor, we had a perfect storm of some 60,000 taxpayer notifications – including 2210 notices like the one you received – go out all at once with no one adequately controlling the flow or preparing to handle the response. That, on top of all the usual post-filing calls about refund status, overwhelmed Taxpayer Services.

I finished a not too pleasant “discussion” with my top managers to get this sorted out and get our call times back under control – let alone the call drops that you experienced. You are right that we can and must do better.

Did my celebrity help in getting this response? Maybe, but I take him at his word that the straw that broke the camel’s back came before he heard from me.

I told Commissioner Sullivan I would continue to call and try to reach someone. My 2011 situation is complex and probably not what was anticipated when the rules were drawn up.

In other words, oy!

If You Ask Me To Call…

My 2011 income tax was unusual. I worked for two employers (maybe you heard) receiving a lump sum from one.

Somehow this got me into the penalty box! Too little was withheld. I had to pay extra for the error.

This weekend I got a letter from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. It says they want more cash!

It’s a three page note (page four says “This page intentionally left blank” in bold type) which concludes,

If you believe the amount of interest calculated for underpayment of estimated income tax is the direct result of a withholding error in connection to the retroactive income tax rate increase, please contact DRS.

Hello! I am the poster child for underpayment of estimated income tax the direct result of a withholding error in connection to the retroactive income tax rate increase.

I called DRS. They have no email address.

I got a typical ‘high call volume’ recording followed by,

“Your call is important to us. Call back later.”


They hung up!

Seriously, is that the best they can do? How about taking a number and calling me back when you get some time? Is there really someone there who feels having me randomly call hoping a DRS can talk is a good solution?

No one likes to pay taxes. Can’t you folks at least make it a little more pleasant?

The DRS seal says, “Service excellence is our goal.”

Congratulations, Your Taxes Are Done

There are always face/palm moments. There are always periods of tension between Helaine and me when I’m glad we don’t keep a gun in the house.

Of all the things I do on a yearly basis filing income tax is my least favorite! There are always face/palm moments. There are always periods of tension between Helaine and me when I’m glad we don’t keep a gun in the house. I did my best to put it off until today. We just finished.

“An hour and a half,” Helaine said with the kind of self congratulatory satisfaction only a wife can show to a husband. “Not bad.”

You know what? It wasn’t bad. It went smoothly with very few questions or concerns.

Here’s the secret of the Foxes finances: Helaine handles it all!

Seriously, she’s in charge of every penny. I’m not sure I wrote more than one or two checks all year. I certainly didn’t pay any bills or make any deposits.

This is all based on my history as a bachelor. Back then I was paying bills when I got around to it… which I seldom did.

We sat at the kitchen table. Helaine had already separated the results of the Fox family monetary policy into logical piles representing the various institutions that sent us forms. She also had a handwritten sheet with our charitable contributions.

We used TurboTax again this year. I have no idea if it’s better or worse than any other service, but once you’re ‘in the system’ most of your numbers are automatically entered for you. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. It’s part of the way they get you hooked!

I was pleased to see a brief admonition as I started. TurboTax recognized I was using Chrome Version 11 as my browser. They made note there might be minor incompatibilities, but added, “Way to be ahead of the curve.” Nice touch.

We’re getting some money back. That’s good though it’s really bad! Any accountant worth his salt will tell you I had too much deducted and lent the government money with no interest.

Too bad. I’d rather get a refund. It feels good whether it actually is or not.

Back when we started e-filing taxes friends were skeptical about the safety and security. I think it’s the norm now. Maybe we trust too much?