It didn’t seem like a tough assignment. In fact, I’d done it once before. How hard can it be to call a toll-free number and request a form? And yet, I had major league misgivings……
Let’s back up.
The foundation insists that any non-profit agency submitting requests include a certification of tax exempt status no older than 16 months. How they cooked up that number is beyond me, but remember the Golden Rule: The One With The Money Makes The Rules. My IRS letter on file is 2 years old, but it provides a toll-free number to call for information. So I grab a cup of coffee, place a newspaper within reach, and call.
Once the recording starts, the first 5 minutes are devoted to convincing callers to hang up and call somebody else. You know, the usual pack of lies about listening carefully because their options have changed; if you’re calling about something you never heard of (and probably doesn’t exist) then call somebody else; if you’re blind, deaf, and mentally disabled and want to work for the federal government stay on the line and we’ll send a courier, etc. If none of the above, please stay on the line and somebody will get with you before nightfall. Maybe. Or I can visit their convoluted website, an experience akin to waterboarding from which no sane citizen ever recovers.
Eventually some cracked-voiced crone picks up, mumbles her name and badge number, and asks how she can help me. I explain that I’m calling as a representative of a non-profit organization that needs a new 501(c)(3) letter.
“Are you an attorney?” she asks me.
I’ve been called worse by better people, ma’am, but no. I’m an employee of the agency making the request.
“Well you said ‘representative’,” she states, disdainfully. “That means you’re legal counsel.”
No it doesn’t. It only means I’m the person designated to speak for the organization.
“No, sir. It means you’re a lawyer. But if you say you’re not, then what is your position with the agency?”
Wait! It doesn’t mean I’m a lawyer. I said it, remember, and that’s not what I meant. Anyway, I’m the Director of Philanthropy here.
“Are you an officer of the company?”
Jesus Fucking Christ and his band of merry men! There aren’t any bleeding “officers.” There’s an Executive Director, an Education Director, and a suffering sonofabitch growing suppurating ulcers who raises the money and deals with the likes of you, and that’s me!
“Well, sir, if you’re not a lawyer even though you started out by saying you are, and you’re not an officer, then I’m afraid we can’t continue.”
You singularly cretinous obstacle! I’m done with you! Go fetch your supervisor! What did you say your name was? What’s your badge number?
She puts me on hold for the rest of the morning — I’m forced to piss in my coffee cup for fear of losing the connection — and I never do get to speak to her super. But I get the fax number and dash off my request in writing, noting her name and number and refusal to cooperate. She tells me submitting my request in writing means it will be 6 weeks before the case is even assigned, let alone processed. I tell her to have a nice day when she goes home to her tar pit.
I wait an hour before calling back, and I get somebody else. I carefully avoid complicated technical terms like “represent” and “fucktard,” but then he asks me if I’m an officer of the company. When I ask him what he means by “officer,” he gets belligerent.
“That’s however you and your company define it,” he says.
Well, we don’t define it. We don’t have officers. We’re not the army. We’re not even the Salvation Army, and besides, if an officer is anything WE define it as, what the hell’s the point of the question? But I’m the one who…..
“Hey, if you’re not an officer I can’t process this, you understand? I don’t want to hear about anything else. Now, are or aren’t you an officer of the nonprofit corporation?”
No, I’m not. But nobody is. So….
“So nothing. We’re done. Good-bye.” Cocksucker cuts me off like a ragged foreskin.
I rage! I punch walls! I crotch-kick puppies and kittens!! And I wait a day before I call back. When we get to the question about officers, I say I am one. Gummint Bitch puts me on hold for 90 seconds, and when she returns she tells me she processed the request and I should have my letter in 10 days to 2 weeks. I thank her.
So that’s how it works. You fabricate. You lie. (You mutilate small helpless animals.) You just make shit up to satisfy them. You win the game by obeying its rules, disregarding the logic, the facts, the truth. Yeah, I’m an officer. For exclusive purposes of handling this unique IRS insanity, I‘m an officer. What of it? No need to salute, just send me my goddam scrap of paper.
Full disclosure: my father was an IRS agent for 33 years. I couldn’t talk to that nasty element, either.