The craziness at the IRS

I’m still working on getting an account, hoping that my paper code will come through. We’ll see if it works.

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Have you ever tried to open an account at IRS.gov?  It’s supposed to be easy, in order to attract more taxpayers to get online accounts.  But if you’ve filed returns from different addresses recently, you’ll quickly discover how problematic the IRS system can be.

The first and a major problem is that a telephone call to the IRS will result in a long wait time.  The robotelephone constantly apologizes for the long wait times, but that really doesn’t solve the problem.  Furthermore, when you speak to a representative, they’ll give you their name and employee number, but if you need to call that person back, there’s no way to reach them.  This has happened to me many times, since I call on Skype, and Skype sometimes drops the connection (before and during your call – you still have to start over). Once the representative had to terminate the call because they were being required to evacuate their building!  She didn’t volunteer to call me back (I had waited half an hour to speak with her).

If for some reason you don’t own a U.S.-based cell phone, you’re in trouble, because the IRS requires you to give a U.S. based cell phone number for “security.”  I live in Mexico, so my cell phone is not U.S. based. And I’ll bet that there are plenty of people in America who still have land-lines. The IRS wants a “readily available mobile device that either is text-enabled or supports the IRS2Go app. A text-enabled mobile phone associated with your name will allow you to complete registration in one session. If you want to use a business phone or the IRS2Go app, request the activation code by mail.”  The IRS also wants you to provide a credit card number. “The credit card cannot be American Express, a debit card or a corporate card issued in your name by your company or organization.”

I ran into a problem because I filed my 2017 tax return in Los Angeles and then filed my 2018 return in Texas (in about March).  I started to try to get my IRS account only in late June. The IRS instructed me to use my address for my most recent filing. But the IRS hadn’t started to work on my 2018 return, so its system assumed that my address was still the Los Angeles address.  I tried to use the Texas address several times, and the IRS system blocked me and insisted that I wait 24 hours before trying again. I called the IRS about this several times (with wait times up to half an hour) until finally, one representative told me that things were delayed and I should use the L.A. address.

So I tried that.  On my tax return, my address was “10747 Magnolia Bd.”  That’s what I typed on the website. However, my address so far as the IRS was concerned was “10747 Magnolia Boulevard.”  The IRS system may translate “Ave.” to “Avenue,” for example. They don’t tell you this. I don’t know if an address of “101 S. Grant St.” must be translated as “101 South Grant Street” or something else.

If you don’t have ownership of a U.S. cell phone you can ask the IRS to mail you a paper code that you can use.  I was finally able to do this. But things were made more complex because the IRS was going to send the paper code to the LA address that I had vacated the year before, and the code would not have been forwarded to me.  Fortunately, I reached a representative who was willing to identify me and then change my address to the one in the 2018 tax return that the IRS hadn’t yet processed. There’s no way to change your address online unless you’ve succeeded in establishing your online account.

I’m still working on getting an account, hoping that my paper code will come through.  We’ll see if it works.

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