Taxation and Representation

This is a follow-up to an earlier post about the fact that the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DoR) seemed to have lost my 2008 tax payment. I had sent the payment by check, something I will not do again now that I am aware of electronic payment options.

Upon receiving the “notice of assessment” in May I concluded they lost the check. So, I resubmitted my payment, this time electronically, along with the interest and penalty. I also submitted an abatement request in the amount of the interest and penalty. I’d like that back since I’m not the one who made a mistake. Finally, I stopped payment on the check I had sent, just in case it turned up. I want to pay my taxes, but not twice.

Well, apparently submitting my tax payment twice was not enough. Something had gone wrong again because I received a “demand for payment” in July. The state was still seeking my tax payment and more interest and penalties. But they had already withdrawn the funds from my checking account. I have the confirmation record from their own system of my electronic payment and another from my bank that indicates the payment. I had paid my taxes twice and had proof that at least once it worked.

To clear things up I attempted to communicate with the DoR about the problem. After waiting on hold for ten minutes and talking to an unhelpful operator for under one minute I was put on hold and then shunted to their automated system for arranging a payment schedule. Not helpful.

Fed up, I called my state representative, Katherine Clark. A representative from her office took over the case for me and made contact with the DoR. A week later I received a call from a DoR agent who explained that the issue had been resolved and that I would be refunded the penalty and interest I had paid. (In fact, I received it last Friday.) So what was the problem with my electronic payment? It was a one-digit data entry error in my social security number. They didn’t match my payment to my account because the numbers didn’t match.

Who made that data entry error? I think it was me! Oops. Still, could there possibly be another individual in their system with a social security number identical to mine but for one digit and with the same name, address, and so forth? No. I think the state could have handled this better, but I deserve some blame for perpetuating the confusion with my clumsy fingers. A big “thank you” to Katherine Clark’soffice for facilitating a resolution. I apologize to the Massachusetts DoR for thinking so badly of them. But hey, they did lose my check and didn’t help when I called! How about a beer summit?

Biden, Gates, Crowley, Obama with beers in the Rose Garden (via theglobeandmail.com) Biden, Gates, Crowley, Obama with beers in the Rose Garden (via theglobeandmail.com)
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