Government Efficiency

Dearest Rachel –

I know, I know, you’re looking at that title and murmuring something to the effect of “here he goes again, on about the idiots in power,” or some such. And I don’t blame you. My cynicism toward those in authority over us is well documented – even by me, despite having a vested interest in painting myself in the best possible light – and it’s enough to even disappoint my dad. But believe it or not, this is actually something of a positive story – although if I take a few swipes regardless, know that it’s just in my nature, and I can’t help myself.

I mentioned the other day that I hadn’t put together the forms for our tax returns; this is mostly because I haven’t received all the forms that I need (particularly from the places where we keep our investments), but I’ll admit to a bit of procrastination on my part as well. If nothing else, it’s a sentiment that you could relate to.

But one of the more interesting things (in a sort of “well, that’s strange” type of way), is that I received a form from the state of Illinois insisting that I had received unemployment benefits last year. Now, while it’s true that I haven’t been employed this past year – or the year before – I don’t believe I’ve ever been eligible for unemployment benefits, particularly since I wasn’t dismissed from my job, but rather left of my own free will (to put it mildly – indeed, I think I recall receiving something from the Department of Employment Security back in 2020, indicating that they were going to send me a debit card for my unemployment benefits, amounting to a whopping… zero dollars. And they actually did send me such a card shortly thereafter, but since I’d been told how little there was going to be on it, I didn’t bother to use it – as if I could – or even keep it. What good is a debit card with nothing on it? What’s the point of sending such a card out?).

Still, if they had sent a copy of this to the IRS, I would presumably have to report it regardless, lest I get dinged for not doing so. But it wasn’t as if I actually received any money from them. However, they did offer an out – I could call them and let them know that I hadn’t received any benefits from them, and they would resolve the matter.

I get the impression that this is a fairly common occurrence, as the warning about fraud – and what to do about it – was printed in a typeface that was larger than the one used on the form itself, so that others in my situation would know what to do.

All of this so far should be reason enough for me to take a dig at the system, and how it allows for this sort of thing to happen – to say nothing of the fact that even at this point, I was still concerned about being required to report funds that I hadn’t received, lest the IRS come down on me like a ton of bricks for not reporting income that never came to me. Just one more situation where the folks like me who are trying to follow the rules are the chumps. Presumably, whoever actually got this $4,578 – because I’ve no doubt the Illinois Department of Employment Security sent either a check or a debit card out – isn’t paying taxes on it.

Regardless, along with informing our tax team that I will still need to enlist their services (to which I received an enthusiastic affirmative reply), I made a call yesterday to the number on the form. It took me through a recorded phone tree, all the while informing me that I would be placed into a queue for an actual person to call me back. It wasn’t the sort of thing that instilled a lot of hope, I’ll be honest.

However, it wasn’t but a few hours later that my cell phone rang. It was that same toll-free number I had dialed to reach IDES. And while the connection could have been better (I suspect that might well be on me; this spot in the basement isn’t exactly the best for reception, I’ve found), the girl on the other line was friendly and efficient, taking down my particulars, and assuring me that they would be issuing a replacement 1099-G to zero out the amount on this initial, fraud-initiated transaction – which I was now instructed not to include in the papers I was to assemble for the IRS. All in a matter of minutes.

So while I might be justified in complaining about the circumstances that brought it about (to say nothing of the fact that this is a common enough occurrence that they automatically include instructions to deal with such a contingency), I thought you might want to know how pleased I am at the state’s willingness to resolve the matter when it’s brought to their attention. Some things just work out, and one needs to rejoice in those tiny victories.

Until next time, honey, keep an eye out for me. And thanks for doing so with this situation.


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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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