Robots Are Not the Only Problem and Disbarment News

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On October 24 we posted about IRS efforts to free up phone lines by filtering out the robocalls.  To the extent that the post, which was inspired by a listserv posting by Barbara Heggie, raised hopes for a smoother path to the IRS through the phone lines, Barbara was back on the listserv on Wednesday, October 26 dousing those hopes.  Here’s Barbara’s graphic description of her experience trying to call that day:

it took eight tries to get placed on hold, even with a couple of them involving various tests of my humanity. Today, it took twenty-five, and most of them started with the quiz bot.

As the minutes wore on, I realized that this particular bot needs an annoying amount of time to determine whether I’m one of them or one of us. In fact, quizzing me on my math skills, auditory processing, and recall ability takes exactly twice as long, on average, as the non-quiz bot version of PPS purgatory – one minute, rather than thirty seconds.

I do admit to a tiny shot of dopamine whenever I get the math question right, but the thrill wears off by about Dial #20. And because I had to stay mentally nimble, I couldn’t check out and focus on something else for those precious extra seconds.

Yesterday was grumble-worthy; today was aggravating, particularly because the call dropped just as my PPS representative was giving me the numbers of the bank account where my client’s stimulus payments were deposited. Another twenty-six dials, and I’m in the queue again. Wish me luck.

It’s obvious from this message that robocalls are not the only problem.  Maybe $80 billion can fix this problem.  It would be nice to have calls get through without the problems described by Barbara and experienced by most of the readers of this blog.  While it’s nice to have math skills affirmed, it’s even nicer to reach someone to speak with about a problem without feeling that you have scaled Mount Everest just to get to the conversation.

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Moving on from the fun topic of waiting to reach the IRS, we offer some possible additional reading material while you wait.  On October 26, 2022, the Tax Court issued its most recent list of attorney discipline orders.  Like most of these orders in the Tax Court, the three attorneys listed in this order are receiving discipline based on the reciprocal rules resulting from discipline in their local bar and not from something they did in a Tax Court case.  I have written about disciplinary matters several times in the past.  Here and here are posts from earlier this year.

The first case involving Paul Saul Haar seems a typical case of reciprocal discipline.  It struck me that he actually self-reported his state bar disciplinary action to the Tax Court which seems rare in my reading of these cases.  He failed to respond to the Tax Court’s show cause order causing his right to practice before the Tax Court to be suspended but with the right to apply for reinstatement.

The second case involving Isaac Henry Marks involved a situation in which it appeared the multiple bars in which he was admitted and the reciprocal discipline procedures of each proved too much for him to keep up with.  It appeared he may have had a minor trust account problem in DC causing disciplinary action there which triggered reciprocal discipline in Maryland, Kansas and the DC Circuit Court.  He got restored in DC relatively quickly but was still working out the reciprocal actions in the other jurisdictions.  The cascading impact of the first action appeared to be something he was having trouble getting in front of.

The third and final case involving David H. Miller was an easy case from the standpoint that he was convicted in Virginia of several serious crimes though not crimes which appeared to have any tax implications.  Disbarment here was an easy remedy to reach.  What struck me about this order was the requirement that he surrender to the Tax Court within 20 days his certificate of admission to practice before the Court.  The return of a physical document of this type seemed a bit archaic.  It was not required of the others who were disciplined but this was, by far, the most serious case and the one in which reinstatement seemed quite remote.  I wonder what the chances are that he will send in that physical document and what the consequences are of not sending it in.  It seems like his disbarment is complete without its return, but perhaps the physical document itself bears more importance than I would have imagined.


  1. Agreed. Called off and on throughout the day yesterday. Passed the chat bot gatekeeper every time. Selected my option (various tries at 2 and 4, one client is in collections, one isn’t). High call volume disconnect every time. I don’t mind the chatbot screening for the queue. What I’m beginning to object to is how much information must be provided BEFORE we are told the call volume is too high to get placed in the queue (or to be offered callback).

    I realize that to control the call volume the chatbot may be necessary for screening (although it certainly wasn’t helping yesterday) but if you pass the chatbot and the call volume is too high then why, in the name of yarn, can we not SKIP the “pick an option” and the requisite follow on questions (Option 4 asks for TIN then asks you to confirm SSN or EIN THEN asks you to confirm the TIN is correct before telling you that you are hosed) if there’s no chance of getting placed in the queue or added to the callback service.

    Maybe yesterday was the hurricane. Maybe FEMA could get its own staff. As I said in a previous article, it’s not like natural disasters are going to suddenly become LESS common. Sigh.

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