Often, I need to reach out to the government (state, federal, and local) to determine what is happening on a particular tax case. In case you’re having trouble reaching the Wage Levy unit, here’s what I found out: it may be easier to go directly to their offices if you don’t have an agent assigned to the case.
It seems the wage levy unit is very understaffed and has a ton of cases per worker (seems like a lot of tax agencies are that way) but this group has particular problems, including only 1 fax machine for an entire floor! Also, cases may be given to a higher level manager first, and then given to someone else so you may not have a correct contact. In addition, voice mail wasn’t an option with the person I tried to call (I was told in person that ‘we’d get hundred of messages a day’).
In my case, my client hadn’t filed a few years of tax returns, and had a wage levy on two of the non-filed years. Normally (and in this case), this is due to the IDR getting a copy of a W2 from the IRS and then seeing if the tax return is in their (IDR) system. If not, the IDR will issue notices to the taxpayer asking for their return, and if no return is filed within a certain time, the IDR will file an estimated return for the taxpayer (IRS also does this). However, the filing always assumes the taxpayer is single, no dependents and no deductions so the estimated tax is almost always higher than the actual return. Also, the W2 copy the IDR gets from the IRS does not have state withholding so the estimated tax return gives no credit for withholding. Add in the interest and penalties, and you get a big tax bill.
Also, my client had moved and I’m guessing the IDR had the old address and mail didn’t get to the taxpayer and there were no copies of correspondence in the taxpayer’s file (and it was a well documented file).
The IDR wage levy paperwork (copy was given by taxpayer’s employer) had a contact name (or so I thought) on the form, so I did the usual – get Power of Attorney (POA) from taxpayer, attempt to fax a copy to IDR representative, and then call. This is where it got interesting – the 3 times I attempted to fax to the Chicago-area fax number, the fax didn’t go through and I got an error stating the recipient’s machine had an error. Ended up calling the problem resolution division in Springfield, IL and the rep there said I could fax a copy to her to enter into the main computer system but she couldn’t help me on the case since there was a rep already assigned.
By this time, I’d called the Chicago rep’s phone at least a half-dozen times over the course of about two weeks and it was busy every single time and never went to voice mail. I asked the Springfield rep if this was the correct number, and it was. So, I kept trying, including calling in off hours and on the weekend, and the phone never got picked up and never went to voice mail. So, long story short – I couldn’t reach the rep listed on the case either via phone or fax.
Decided to go directly to the offices in downtown Chicago and told the receptionist about my case. She was very pleasant and told me the case wasn’t assigned to anyone and the person who’s name was on the paperwork was a group manager.
Receptionist went in back & came out saying to have a seat and someone would be with me shortly and about 15 – 20 minutes later, two stern faced women came out, sat behind a counter of chairs and asked me to come over. Neither would introduce themselves (that was odd! and eventually I was told all I needed to do to resolve the case was to fax copies of taxpayer’s W2 forms.
Before leaving, I asked the women how I could get in touch with anyone within the unit – blank stares were exchanged before one suggested fax (please realize that IDR uses e-mail!). I mentioned the trouble faxing and I was told, ‘there’s only one fax machine for the whole floor’ [REALLY? – you’ve got to be kidding me, but according to someone else I talked to, that’s the truth!]
I again asked what they’d recommend and the only reply was, ‘well, you can come in again’. I asked about email and they said that was only when an agent was assigned.
So, if you’re having trouble reaching the Wage Levy unit, I recommend going into their offices – security can be a pain but there wasn’t a long line and I did get the info I needed to release the wage levy (and that was done within 24 hours of faxing the W2 forms). If you don’t have an agent assigned to the case, not sure what else to try but would love to hear anything you’ve done on your cases. Please send any ideas, thoughts or comments below:
Thomas C. Hodge, CPA
The Hodge Group
4118 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618