I am going to diverge from my usual blog content today, I hope you don't mind.
I'm going to be a little... disconcerted.
You see, we got a letter saying we were being audited by the State Tax Commission. It said that they thought it would be fun, after 3 years, to compare our State Tax return with our Federal Tax return. Their comparison indicated a discrepancy and possible corrections.
We dusted off our copies of the 2006 returns and could not see the discrepancy. In fact, it appeared that all things were in order.
We had two options.
1. Agree with the discrepancy and pay additional taxes.
2. Disagree and send in complete copies of both tax returns from 2006 including all schedules and forms, copies of any letters from the IRS regarding our 2006 taxes, a copy of the letter I am summarizing here, our daytime phone number, one package of press-on nails, a gift card to WalMart, and our 3 favorite children. A pay-your-own-postage envelope was enclosed, for our convenience.
We decided to create another option.
3. Call the Auditing Division and figure out exactly what they were looking at since everything looked hunky-dory on our end.
The auditor was very nice. He pointed out that we had entered a big, fat ZERO on line 5 when we should have entered a big, fat $2009. I looked at the copy of our return. No ZERO. It said $2009. Every i... dotted. Every t... crossed. I told him as much.
I heard frantic typing through the silence from his end of the phone as he pulled up a copy of our actual return.
Okay, now they had it. It seemed that, back in 2006, someone on their end had entered our return in their system incorrectly. One of their State Tax Commission employees had looked at our nicely filed return, saw $2009, but entered a big, fat ZERO.
Their mistake. End of story, right?
Oh, no. It was just the beginning.
Because we were refunded $141 more than we should have been (due to their mistake) they would bill us for it. Plus interest, please. (I told you, Mr. Auditor was very nice.) I asked why we would have to pay interest on their mistake. Mr. Auditor informed me that the interest could likely be waived if we appealed it.
"Wait. Let me be sure I understand before I go crazy on you," I said to Mr. Auditor.
"Certainly!" he replied.
"We filed our taxes correctly. Everything was written in the exact amounts, on the right lines. And then someone in your office, whose job it is to enter information from our forms into your system, made a mistake. And now we have to pay for that mistake as well as going through the trouble of appealing the interest we are being charged on your mistake?"
"Exactly!" Mr. Auditor responded happily.
I passed the phone over to Allen as he is much better at confrontation and not crying when he is frustrated than myself.
They had a conversation where Mr. Auditor maintained his smiling voice and used lots of phrases like "not necessarily" (as in, it was not necessarily their mistake) and "I can understand your frustration".
End result? The State Tax Commission is not in the wrong. We are.
I would really, really love to hear your opinions on this.
Please. (See, I can be very nice, too.)
Are we crazy here? What would you do?