Joe White's Blog Life, .NET, and cats

1099 woes #Life

Jennie has a mutual fund with Smith Barney. And they didn't bother to send us a 1099-INT this year. Again.

They did send us a "combined forms 1099", so I thought we had everything we needed. But when I started entering all of our assorted tax goo into our tax software last night, I found that this "combined forms 1099" was not, in fact, all of the 1099s we needed; it was just a 1099-B (Proceeds From Broker And Barter Exchange Transactions). Important, but I kinda need to know how much interest we earned, too. So I can, like, figure out how much tax we owe (and how much refund we get).

So I called the phone number on the back of the form, navigated through a maze of twisty little touch-tone menus (all alike), got transferred, waited through fifteen rings, and got disconnected.

What outstanding customer service you have, Grandma...

I called back, picked a subtly different path through the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that is their tax-form assistance line, and this time got an actual human being. I explained that we hadn't gotten our 1099-INT. She asked for the account number and looked it up. And it turned out that she didn't have the 1099-INT information either.

She asked me if we had made less than $10 in interest on the account, because they won't send out a 1099-INT in that case. (To which I answered, "I don't know how much interest we made — that's what the 1099-INT is supposed to tell me!").

She tried to be helpful, but she simply didn't have access to the information I needed. Final resolution: we need to call Jennie's broker. He's in Hawaii, so we have to wait until this afternoon to call. I'm hoping he'll be in the office this time (as opposed to last December, when we needed to withdraw some money from the mutual fund, and he was out of the office for two weeks, and nobody else could help us).

I don't get it. Somebody at this multinational megacorporation has to know how much interest we earned. #1, why didn't they tell us? (They did send us the 1099-B, so they're already paying the postage — why not print something on the back of the second page, for crying out loud?) And #2, why didn't they tell their call center that they set up specifically to answer questions about the tax forms?

I swear, you've just gotta admire a company with such an unwavering focus on customer satisfaction.