Phoenix woman has yearlong battle with IRS

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- Vivian Carmine-Hobart is a proud grandmother who is  anxious to visit her new granddaughter.

"This is my new baby, Sophia," Carmine-Hobart said, holding up a family picture.  "They live in the state of Washington so I can't wait to get my taxes back so I can get an airline ticket to go see them."

It's a tax refund Carmine-Hobart said she been waiting on for a long time.

"They verified they received it and I could expect my taxes back on April 21," she explained. "I was going to get $404 back."

The April 21 she's talking about is April 2011 -- last year.

That's how long she says she's been waiting to get her refund back from the federal government. She can't believe it.

"It's absolutely the runaround," she said. "It's like I'm nobody, nothing. My $400 is nothing to them."

Frustrated, Vivian consulted a friend, who told this:

"She's like, 'Do you want your money back'? I'm like, 'Yes, I want my money back! She's like, 'Contact Gary Harper!"

3 On Your Side contacted the Internal Revenue Service and got big promises that they would look into Carmine-Hobart's matter. They also said that because of privacy issues, they would have to deal directly with her. That was fine with 3 On Your Side. We just wanted them to investigate the matter and to resolve the issue.

Those promises, Carmine-Hobart said, were nothing more than lip service.

It turns out the IRS actually did look into Carmine-Hobart's matter and reportedly discovered the error which is keeping her from getting her refund. Carmine-Hobart said the IRS told her they can't fix the mistake right now because they're too busy working on the current tax season and it will be at least 45 days before they can get to it.

Carmine-Hobart can't believe it, saying if she was the one who owed the IRS $400 from more than a year ago agents would be "breaking down her door to get it."

"If I owed them and I kept sending them a letter saying I need 45 more days, I need 45 more days, they would levy something or garnish my wages or take my wages," she said.

Regardless, Carmine-Hobart says she appreciates 3 On Your Side's involvement and is optimistic that the issue is now being focused on by the agency. 

3 On Your Side plans on airing an updated news report.  We'll let you know if she gets her refund, and how long it actually takes.