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The IRS Made Me File A Paper Return, Then Misplaced It


The IRS misplaced my 2020 tax return.

Properly, in line with the discover I bought yesterday, the IRS says it “by no means obtained” the return. However I’m sticking with “misplaced.”

Let me clarify:

As TaxVox readers could bear in mind, I—and at the very least 3.4 million different tax filers—bought caught in an IRS safety entice final 12 months. In a well-intended however remarkably badly designed effort to guard towards id theft, the IRS requires e-filers to report their prior 12 months adjusted gross revenue (AGI) on their present 12 months return.

In concept, this match would show that you’re you. Or, least, the IRS would know that whoever e-filed this 12 months had entry to your final 12 months’s return data.

Sadly, the AGI on my 2019 return didn’t match the quantity I gave the IRS in 2020. Really, it did match however the IRS insisted it didn’t.

Crushed by the system

I didn’t know then, although plenty of others did, that there was a simple method to idiot the system: simply plug in zero for that prior 12 months AGI. Wild guess right here, however I think about id thieves figured this out too, thus fully defeating the aim of the AGI examine.  

There are two classes right here: 1) I’m a very unhealthy hacker and a couple of) The IRS’s ID safety system solely catches laptop idiots or sincere people.  

I spent days making an attempt to repair this. TurboTax, the software program program I used to create my return, was no assist. I attempted calling the IRS. You understand how that turned out.

Subsequent, I attempted to kind out the mess by creating a web based account at IRS.gov. No luck. The service wouldn’t let me arrange an account as a result of it couldn’t verify that my cell phone quantity is my cell phone quantity. Notice to IRS: It’s. Actually.

Failing all this, I had no alternative however to mail my return. This was the very last thing I needed. And the very last thing the IRS says it needed. However it gave me no different choices. Since I had a steadiness due, I additionally despatched a examine.

The IRS bought the examine. Actually, it cashed the examine simply six days after I mailed it. Very spectacular.

The misplaced tax return

So think about my shock after I bought a discover eight months later that the IRS “by no means obtained” my 2020 Kind 1040.

It most probably did obtain it, however in some way misplaced it within the piles of paper returns and different mail which were ready to be processed, in some instances for greater than a 12 months. In contrast to many filers, at the very least I wasn’t anticipating a refund.

A lot of this was past the company’s management. It already was short-staffed as a result of price range cuts. Like nearly each employer, it bought hammered by pandemic-related absences. And Congress saddled the company with distributing a number of Financial Affect Funds (aka stimulus checks) and, later, month-to-month Little one Tax Credit score funds.  

However a few of this mess was immediately as a result of bungled programs and poor administration. The company has identified for at the very least 5 years that its AGI id examine didn’t work. It knew it was unable to reply cellphone calls. And it knew its system for confirming identities via cell phone numbers was a multitude. But it fastened none of this. And all of those failures drove me and others to do the one factor the IRS was making an attempt to keep away from: Stick a return in an envelope and mail it.  

What now?

What do I do now? The IRS, as solely it will probably, gave me two selections: Both mail a return to the IRS or mail a duplicate of the return I already filed. Second observe to the IRS: These are kind of the identical factor. 

Both manner, I’m about so as to add to the company’s deepening pile of unread mail. For the second time.

Remember that the IRS is beginning the present tax season with 9 million unprocessed particular person and enterprise returns, one other 3 million unprocessed amended returns, and practically 5 million items of correspondence from prior tax years it has not but addressed. The company calls this “considerably elevated stock.” That is one thing like describing Mt. Everest as a considerably elevated hill.

The IRS is warning taxpayers and Congress that the brand new submitting season goes to be painfully gradual. And it’s virtually begging taxpayers to e-file. But it continues to make it unnecessarily tough to take action. Third observe to IRS: If you would like folks to do one thing, cease making it exhausting.

In November, the IRS introduced it’ll attempt to repair the identification verification drawback by requiring on-line customers to enroll with a brand new system known as ID.me. Forgive me if I’m skeptical.

In the meantime, I’ll trundle off to the put up workplace with one more copy of my 2020 return. Then I’ll get to work on my tax 12 months 2021 return. And await this 12 months’s Adventures in Tax Submitting.

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