Thursday, December 01, 2005

Follow-up (Somewhat Unbelievable)

Or a better title might be: "Sh*t Happens, But So Does Good Stuff!"

Remember my posts about one of my employees with a tax levy from the IRS?

No? Well, for a quick review check out this post and this post from back in early October.

Okay, now that you’re up to speed, here’s the follow up. (Initials have been changed to protect confidentiality.)

Mr. F tried to live on the $158 per week the IRS allowed him to take home. After a month or two, when doing so (living) became obviously impossible, he petitioned for a reduction in the amount of the levy. He called the same “1-800” number 6 times over a few weeks, but each time was connected to a different IRS office. As you might expect, he received no help at all from some, and conflicting information from others.

He pleaded with me for help, but I had a court-ordered levy to deal with. I couldn’t ignore it, nor could I stop sending the levied amount to the IRS without written instructions from the IRS. I sent him back to the IRS to ask them for something in writing that I could use to reduce his levied amount.

This week he came to me in tears (a bit disconcerting — this is not a man prone to them). A lady in an IRS office in California had told him they only expected us to be sending them $590 per month on his behalf, and we were sending almost $1,800. She didn’t understand why. She had an agreement, signed by a Mrs. C, which stated the $590 number.

Just so you’ll know; Mrs. C is our company’s payroll administrator. She works for me. I asked her about this alleged “agreement,” and she produced a copy of the only thing she had ever signed and sent to the IRS. It was VERY CLEARLY not any kind of agreement. It was simply a cover sheet that went along with the first check we sent them on Mr. F’s behalf. That first check had been for $590.

This was no “agreement...” but if the IRS thought it was... and accepted it as such... AND (most importantly) if somebody changed his account records in their computer system to show that they HAD such an “agreement”... Well, all would be wonderful.

Apparently that’s exactly what happened.

Today Mr. F, Mrs. C and I called the 1-800 number from my speakerphone so we could all participate. We were on hold forever, but then were connected to a Mr. White. He listened to the dilemma, checked the computer records, agreed that Mr. F had an agreement with the IRS, and only owed them $590 per month!

When I explained my need for something in writing to authorize me to amend the current levy, Mr. White agreed again. He kept us on hold for a loooooong time. Twice he came back on to ask us a question, and then we were back on hold.

Then he asked for my fax number, and a minute later I had my signed, written authorization. Since we are processing the current pay period’s payroll today, this allowed me to immediately change the levy and spare Mr. F another two weeks of extreme hardship.

Now, that would be reason enough to celebrate and marvel that the IRS had made such a goof and it actually benefited a taxpayer. But if you’ve gotten this far, read on a bit.

When I thanked Mr. White for all of his empathetic efforts, and told him that he may have literally saved a life today (Mr. F told me he was wondering why he should go on living), Mr. White said, “Well, the Lord has me here for some reason, I guess. But I’m just doing my job.” (That from an IRS agent!?)

At that, Mr. F’s tears began to flow again and he stepped out of my office. He had been on his knees last night in desperation, asking God to intervene. Mrs. C got teary as well. She has prayed about this situation, feeling terrible for Mr. F. But worse, as the payroll administrator SHE had to arrange for that horrible levy every payday. She had also asked God to intervene.

Now get this: The paper she signed that became this “agreement” that the IRS accepted and then cut the levy by two-thirds, contained the $590 figure in error! In figuring up that first check (it was the first time she had ever done this) she exempted some amounts that were not supposed to have been exempted. From that first erroneous check until now, the amount we’ve had to take out of Mr. F’s biweekly check has been hundreds higher.

You can easily attribute these events to a government snafu or a comedy of IRS errors that worked out okay for once.

I choose to believe that God answers prayer, and has intervened.


kenju said...

What a nice ending to a sad story. Thanks for bringing us up to date. They might even have a decent Christmas now, and you are the reason. Bless you for following through with the IRS until you got an answer.

Hale McKay said...

Yes, as Kenju said, a nice ending to a sad story.
In a way I am surprised that you had success straightening things for Mr.F. against the IRS, but sometimes diligence pays off. Good post and a great job.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Judy and Hale,

Well, thank you both, but I wasn't particularly diligent. We were just fortunate enough to get an IRS agent on the line who actually seemed to care(!). And all he did was confirm what had gotten into their computer system through some (fluke) (miracle) -- take your pick. I didn't mention in the post that not only was the $590 figure an error (very low), it was also our calculation of a bi-weekly amount. It got into the IRS computers as a monthly amount. Even more amazing, huh?


Candace said...

This is great on so many levels, John. Thanks for sharing it.

Michelle said...

A wonderful feel good story and I am pleased that he was able to find a solution to his financial problem - especially as Christmas is fast approaching. You did good John.

Karyn Lyndon said...

Your post made me teary-eyed. I guess when the IRS has you on your last leg, you might as well bend it and pray.