Because of a clerical error where my social security number and birthdate didn’t match, I wasn’t able to e-file my taxes this year. You’d think that this would be an easy fix, but when you go through government channels, it’s obvious that a simple office typo of a “25” looking like a “26” is a bureaucratic nightmare:
- After attempting several times to e-file, I get an email from H&R Block that the IRS has rejected my federal taxes (but not my state return). As I mentioned, on a federal level my SSN and/or birthdate were filed incorrectly. Normally, I’d be happy with sending my state return online, and my federal return by mail; I’d get my state refund sooner, and I’d pay my federal taxes by check. Unfortunately, New York State is saying I had to e-file both my federal and state returns conjointly.
- H&R tells me to contact the IRS.
- I search through 5 years of emails looking for the pin number the IRS gave me to log into their site.
- The IRS website says they can’t fix my SSN/birthday online.
- I call the IRS during work. After being on hold for one hour, the IRS tells me to call the Social Security Office.
- I call the Social Security Office during work the next day. After 45 minutes on hold, the Social Security Office won’t confirm or fix my birthdate or Social Security Number. They tell me that I need to bring my physical birth certificate to a Social Security Office in person.
- I call my dad who I would think has my birth certificate. He does not. I have to get a replacement birth certificate.
- I wanted to get my birth certificate from my hospital in Chicago, but they closed it down and turned it into condos.
- I pay 50 dollars to the Cook County Clerk’s office to send me my birth certificate to New York City.
- One week later, 4 days before my taxes are due, I receive my birth certificate.
- Yesterday, I use my lunch break to go to the Social Security Office closest to my office. I have my birth certificate, original social security card, W2’s, a passport, and a driver’s license — anything and everything I would need. However, the front desk tells me I need to go to the Brooklyn branch in order to correct my SSN/birthday. They don’t do corrections in this Social Security Office. Unfortunately, I learn, all of New York City’s Social Security Office hours are from 7am to 4pm (during weekday work hours).
- I leave work early to go back home to Brooklyn, to that particular Social Security Office. I get a waiting-line number and remain seated for two hours to be called.
- Everyone is waiting, and I notice one agent arguing with a French woman since I arrived. People’s numbers are called and they come and go, and I’m starting to think I’m next with this particular agent.
- My number is never called, and the entire social security office clears out after 4:45pm. The French woman leaves. Completely alone in the waiting room, I go to the agent’s window and I exclaim that my number was never called. She says come back in the morning, “We’re closed.”
I didn’t explode or yell or anything. Instead, I immediately bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked furiously. Luckily, I planned this would happen and sent my taxes out by the mail; I just won’t expect my state return for a few months, and I know my bank account will take an immediate hit for my federal taxes. Still, the sheer idea that I can’t get my tax return sooner because of a clerical error is frustrating, but nonetheless a minor inconvenience till next tax season. What’s more frustrating, however, is this goddamn bureaucracy to fix this error and the time and money I’ve wasted.