Dear I.R.S. Lady…

*photo credit

Dear I.R.S. Lady,

2:59 pm–I am already late to pick up our big kids, but still stop to get the mail.
Bad choice. 
I see your large, sealed envelope with Internal Revenue Service–Official Business printed across the top.  I have a hunch it’s not a refund check.

3:01 pm–I tell myself not to worry as I drive in my lateness to the kids’ school.
It wouldn’t-couldn’t be the dreaded audit.
The one where I have to go find all the paperwork that it sitting somewhere in that massive pile-to-file.

3:17 pm–Returning home with car full, I finally open your document.
Sure enough–we’re examining your federal income tax return. 
And then something-stuff about adoption tax credit, substantiate, and wihin 30 days.
And yes–I wrote:
Frustrated mama of sarcasm thinking snotty thoughts about how you all can’t even spell correctly on your own federal papers. 
Besides the fact that we already sent you those exact papers you are requesting.

3:21 pm–Still scanning your letter for a phone number to call.
Blood pressure rising as I realize you have sent me duplicates of the same form and are asking for a different enclosed form that is NOT enclosed.
Kids emptying out lunch boxes in the background, while half-full yogurt containers splatter on the newly cleaned kitchen floor.
Oh poor you–dear IRS lady–who will answer this call I’m about to make.

3:37 pm–Phone wedged between ear and shoulder, I have folded two loads of laundry as I wait for a live person.
More discouraging mechanical prompts. 
Still waiting.

3:52 pmSomeone will be with me shortly because you are very busy right now.
So am I.

3:54 pm–Apparently I’m next in line but loud voices in the background alert me to a diaper-become-quite-dangerous.
I attempt a one-handed fix and create a two-handed MESS.
Phone slips, and hits the edge–
I hear you saying to me: That is not a valid entry.
I hang up.
And now I’m angry.
Dear IRS Lady–be forewarned of the frustration heading your way.

4:07 pm–Still cleaning up the mess as I dial again.
The screechy piercing sound of a fax machine greets me.
I hang up.
I dial again.

4:08 pm–Back to waiting in line to talk with you.
But you shouldn’t have said–“thank you for your patience”–
Because I’m not–
Clearly not
Just giving you a heads up.

4:27 pm–Still waiting.  Still angry.
I look at the clock and realize that in 90 minutes, more than twenty people will arrive at our house.  Before they show up, I need to feed all the kids, pull the house together, finish cleaning the bathrooms that were sidetracked by a toddler-wielding-scissors-cutting-holes-in-shirts-during-naptime.
Do you think I have time for this?

4:31 pm–I hear the phone crackle and then your voice.
You say with lightening speed: This is _________at __________ IRS ID #___________.
And I miss it all because I’ve waited so long that I am now outside breaking down recycling.
I’m ready to use words with sharp edges.
I want you to feel their point–
I want you to know that if I could fire you, I would.
Because someone should pay for this added-afternoon-stressor.

4:31 and 30 seconds– But then it all changes.
Your words are kind.
Your words are calm.
Your soft answer turns away my wrath.
You explain–you even acknowledge that I did already send those papers and the error is on your end of things.

4:32 pm–I feel my anger smothered as you ask questions about our adoptions.
I sense your supportive heart.
You are patient in my long-winded explanations.

4:33 pm–Laughing. You make me laugh–such good medicine for anxious shoulders hunched in conflict anticipation.

4:34 pm–Nothing has changed. 
But really–so much has.
I still have to send in the-paperwork-already-sent-in-two-months-ago.
But I feel the anger slowly washed away in grace.
I.R.S. Lady–I know God had my line connect with you today.

10:45 pm–The house is quiet and I just want to thank you for your kindness gift.
I’m embarrassed by the word-flood almost unleashed.
I ask God for His forgiveness at my quickly kindled fury.
And I’m thankful for God’s Truth holding True.
“A soft answer turns away wrath.”

7:52 am–So on this Thursday morning….
Just want you to know I’m thankful for the difference one person’s right response can make.
Thank you for your gentle tongue–
That led me back to the tree of life.
I want to remember your response and it’s power,
the next time I come face-to-face with

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and healing to the body.”
~Proverbs 16:24

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  1. The IRS, YIKES!! It’s no wonder terrible thoughts went thru your mind!!
    I’m happy it all worked out Kara.

  2. Dear Kara,
    Those are the hardest phone calls, the official ones that you have to wait for.
    God was good to you and what a blessings
    Thanks for the reminder about harsh words and tone. Not a good day here today due to that.
    Many blessings

  3. Thanks for the inspiring post! It is a good reminder that things are not always as we imagine them to be. What a gift of grace that God knew you needed at the moment. Blessings.

  4. Oh Kara, sorry for al of that! when we filed for our adoption tax credit I too lived in fear that the IRS would make my life a nightmare. Praying that it al gets settled and thankful for the kind lady.

  5. Kara…just reading this brought to me so many memories of all the times I have had to make phone calls to government agencies. The anger and the fear all mixed in together.

    Yet, He carries us through it all by giving us Grace – His!

    I am glad that your call ended well –

    Mrs. M.

  6. praise Him!!

  7. Like!

  8. Clever! Great format that advances the suspense. And the piece de resistence? Things worked out better than expected…

  9. Loved this so much! Thank you for taking us along on your journey of fear, uncertainty and frustration through the decision to choose kindness and grace! Very creative.

  10. i so enjoyed this, friend…. and i breathed a deep sigh of relief at the kindness in her voice. what a gift, this kindness. so soothing… like balm. thank you for this prose…

  11. I wasn’t sure how this would end, but I’m so glad that it ended how it did!

    What a wonderful blessing she was to you, just as you needed it!

  12. One year I was audited by the Feds and two states. That ugly feeling in your stomach ugghhhhh. That’s why I have an accountant now, he makes it right by magic.

    Stopping over from BPOW

  13. Isn’t that wonderful? I mean, the audit/mistakes? Not wonderful. But reaching someone able to diffuse what I must admit is a righteous anger? Makes me smile.


  14. Love it!
    Having worked on both sides of the customer service business a calme, kind word makes all of the difference for everyone on each end!
    Have a great day.

  15. I can relate to every single moment of pain on this one. I thought many of the same thoughts. I hate waiting on a phone. Thanks, for the beautiful ending to this high blood pressure moment.
    Blessings to you!

  16. Hi Kara,
    This was an excellent post filled with humor, suspense, frustration, grace, relief…the makings of a great book! Although I have not lived through your exact experience I could feel your every emotion through your words. What a gift you have! Your words are powerful and the life lesson you have learned from a stressful situation gives me lots to ponder. I was relieved to know that the I.R.S. lady changed your day and heart for the better. I was even getting anxious reading as the plot thickened and I wasn’t sure if your day was going to get worse or better! Thanks for sharing in a creative way how words can harm or help us! So glad you have joined NOBH so I can be blessed by your thoughts and insights! God bless!

  17. Kara, I’ve had those thoughts and conversations with our Revenue Canada for similar reasons. I even had someone tell me from our tax service that I needed a letter to prove I was our youngest’s mother. I do love though when you finally get someone at those government offices with either a sense of humour or understanding our frustration. Thanks for linking up today. It was great to see the blessing God gives us in the midst of chaos.

  18. I am thankful for the grace and kindness you were shown. It is a reminder to us all that we never know what is going on with another and our words should always be seasoned with grace.

  19. Just finished pulling together all the documents for both adoptions!!! WOOO-HOOO! Ready to mail (and hopefully get our adoption tax credit).
    Thanks for all the kind, encouraging comments friends! :)

  20. Thank-you for sharing how you were blessed through one person’s words!! It’s amazing how a little bit of kindness can go such a long way!

  21. Ah, bureaucracy! We have it downunder here in OZ too. But, like you, every now and then we get a REAL PERSON who actually fixes the problem!!

    Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

  22. FYI…on my adoption forum it appears that just about everyone who filed adoption tax credit is experiencing exactly the same thing you are. I’m waiting for my packet. It seems to be how they’re cracking down to make sure we’re all legit. You’re in good company!

  23. Cindy :) Just read through the link you sent…please feel free to tell them that (via the IRS lady)–if paperwork was sent in with the taxes, I guess they archived it instead of sending it on to the correct processing center. The center is aware that this is what happened, but they are requiring anyone whose taxes are checked to resend all the documentation in. Ours was little tricky because it is a mix of the 2adoptions and Selah’s paperwork is confusing. But–I was assured that the funds should be released when they receive all the duplicate paperwork. Please feel free to share on the forum if you think it’d be helpful.

  24. Before I even read this I have to share that I read Imperfect Prose in my own wonky order, but i have been looking forward to this post because the title just rocks.

  25. Oh, sometimes sharp-tongued sister, I related to each and every step. I had to giggle because, I have felt all of these same things, thought these same thoughts, and readied myself for battle with a phone rep. And I’ve had kind voices at the other end dampen my wrath. So nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks for the giggle. I hope it all ends smoothly.

  26. BTW I just read this outloud to my mom. It’s even better that way.

  27. brilliant post! new follower from the Tailspin hop

  28. What a wonderful post! I felt myself getting anxious right along with you then calming down with you as well. :)

  29. That is always my biggest fear. I don’t do taxes in this country, I let my husband do them, but I am always afraid that he doesn’t have everything in order if the IRS does audit us.
    I have had to make a few phonecalls to the Norwegian IRS since moving here because they wanted me to pay taxes even though I had no income or property in Norway. That was a hard call to make at midnight when I would rather go to sleep, but they were nice and fixed their mess right away.
    I am glad everything worked out for you and that you found someone who saved your day for you.

  30. I loved reading this! God is with us even in the smallest and largest ways! Glad everything turned out fine. Visiting from the Hip Homeschool Hop.

  31. Hi I am new follower from the uk
    Loved your blog
    please come visit me anytime

  32. What a scary envelope to receive. And I feel your pain.

  33. Beautiful post, Kara. It is so amazing to find those treasures of words and people who know how to use them to calm a situation. I’m glad you connected with her, too.

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