At 93, Alvina Pryor has lived long enough to recognize when she is getting the runaround. And the Hickory Hills resident is pretty sure the Internal Revenue Service is yanking her chain.
Her journey through the seventh layer of bureaucratic damnation started innocently enough in March, when she filed her federal tax return.
Pryor thought her $4,006 refund would be dispersed quickly. After all, she had never had any issues in the past. But in mid-April she received a letter from the IRS saying her return had been delayed because the agency needed more information.
She called the phone number provided on April 18.
"After a two-hour wait, I talked to a representative," Pryor said. "She told me after she got my info that everything was A-OK, and I will receive my refund in six to eight weeks."
Pryor said she waited two months but did not receive her refund. So on June 15, she called again. That time, she was told there was concern that her identity had been stolen, she said.
"I was thinking, just send me the damn money and I don't care about identity theft," Pryor said.
The representative agreed there was nothing wrong with her return, and again promised the $4,006 would arrive in six to eight weeks, Pryor said.
Two months later, on Aug. 13, with the money still missing, Pryor called the IRS yet again. For a third time, she was told to expect her refund in six to eight weeks. By then Pryor was, shall we say, perturbed.
She called the IRS again in September and was told there was still a "hold" on her return, but the hold would be lifted and she would receive her money in — you guessed it — six to eight weeks.
Tired of waiting, she wrote to What's Your Problem? on Oct. 8. "I don't know what the (heck) is going on," she said.
Her instructions were simple. "Make them feel like a little flea," she said.
Pryor said she thought the IRS was stringing her along. And she wasn't happy. "I want to put the government on a slab and slice them into little pieces," she said.
The Problem Solver called IRS spokesman Michael Devine and forwarded Pryor's letter.
Devine said he could not comment specifically on Pryor's situation because of privacy issues but promised to forward her information to the taxpayer advocate for Illinois.
"We will assume a financial hardship for a 93-year-old who hasn't gotten a $4,000 refund," he said. "Thanks for bringing this up to us and I will do the best I can to get it to the person who will make something happen."
On Monday morning, Pryor received a call from an IRS representative, who said her refund has been approved and should arrive by Friday.
"She asked for my Social Security number," Pryor said. "I said 'I shouldn't be giving that to anybody but I guess I'll give it to the IRS.'"
A jubilant Pryor called the Problem Solver on Wednesday afternoon.
"I got my dang check today," she said. "I'm feeling good about it. I'm going right to the bank."