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August 5, 2009
When bureaucrats control your life
I'm a lawyer and I have a new business client, a bakery. One of the first things that must be done is to get that business an Employer Tax Identification number ("EIN"). This can be done over the phone. So, I call up the appropriate IRS number.
After waiting and waiting and being bounced around through voice-mail hell ("Please push nine for more choices. . . ."), I get the right person to talk to to get a tax ID number. You must then fax a completed application to the person you are speaking with on the phone.
The name of the company is "Better Bakers of . . . ."
Keep in mind that not only did I spell out the word "Better" on the phone, but I also faxed a completed form, and the extremely pleasant agent I spoke with spelled out every word I'd entered on the form, to make sure that she had it accurately.
Then she gave me the new tax ID number. Painless.
However, when the official notification arrives in the mail, we discover that the IRS has entered the new business as "Deader Bakers of . . . ."
So, I call today to straighten this out. More trips through voice-mail hell, until I finally get a live person who says, "Oh, I'll transfer you to the ID number department."
Click. Buzz. Click.
"You have reached the IRS tax ID department. We are open from seven until seven. Please dial 1-800-829-4933."
That was the number I had called in order to get this announcement telling me to call that very number.
I call again, and when I finally reach a live person, I tell her what has happened, and she says that she has to transfer me again. Now, I've been waiting 15 minutes (and counting).
Which gives me plenty of time to happily contemplate just how swell dealing with the federal government is going to be when the government is running my health insurance.
At 22 minutes, I get a very nice live person. I am told that this cannot be corrected over the phone, by me, by my client, or by fax. My client-and only my client-must mail a coupon and letter telling the IRS that the name they entered into its computer is incorrect. How long it will take to achieve the name correction the trying-to-be-helpful agent cannot say.
I am just giddy with hope about the federal government taking over my health care.
"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"