Saturday, July 23, 2011

The IRS is not prepared for your twins

We got our federal tax refund earlier this month. Why so late, and what does it have to do with twins?

Well, having an extra social security number into which I could introduce a typo is partly to blame. You'd think twins would get consecutive social security numbers, but in our case, you'd be wrong. Their cards arrived 3 months apart -- even the 3-digit prefix is different.

Second, the IRS is not very good at telling you what is wrong with your return. They only told us that there was a name/number mismatch. When I finally called them, the (very nice) guy on the phone explained that they were unable to give me any information about the person whose social security number is wrong. (At first I thought this was some sort of privacy protection, but they could have said, "Here's what you wrote, and that's wrong," without giving away any information.)

But apparently they can give you information in the form of a riddle. "It's the dependent whose birthday is not..." "Um, that's the birthday for both of my dependents. They're twins." "Oh, then it's the one you listed second." We were eventually able to clear it up, but I thought it was funny that the IRS guy thought I could identify one of my kids if he told me the birthday.