Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bank of America (BofA) Screws Up Your Taxes

Update: after wasting a bunch more time talking to robots and robot-like people on the phone, I got half an answer. The 1099-INT was, correctly, not filed for my savings account. However, what happened to the "Keep the Change" 1099, if it exists, is a mystery. I could not find any reference to it beyond the blanket statement that a 1099 gets filed on "Keep the Change" refunds. I had to file without that information. And oddly enough, as far as the savings account goes, the robot on the phone was perfectly happy to tell me what the robot on the website kept secret. So this may all come down to bugs, bugs, bugs. I bank with BofA, and in general I'm pretty happy with them. They screwed up once and charged me an incorrect late fee, but then I was too lazy to call them on it so I can't complain too much ($40 doesn't buy a lot of my time these days). But outside of that, they've been about as pleasant as you could expect from a bank. However, for a procrastinator like me, their tax service is simply horrible. It turns out that if you receive more than $10 in interest, you bank is supposed to send you a 1099-INT form. Except of course I've opted into "paperless" service from BofA, so I never get any statements etc. in the mail. Nor did I get a 1099-INT. So, doing my taxes at the last moment, I went looking for the information online. You know, electronic banking and all that. Quoth the bank:
How can I get a copy of my 1099 form? IRS 1099 forms (also called "Year-end interest-paid statements") are mailed out by the end of January. You should expect to receive your statement in early February. If you have not received your form by February 15, please contact us at the number found on your statement. Your 1099 form is not available online.
Awesome. Of course it's April 13th, two days before the deadline, and I'd really like to get this done. More specifically, I'd really like them to honor their promise of a paperless account. We're talking about a whopping $70 or so, and they can't add that up for me and present it in a "Tax Info" box by my account summary? Oh, but it gets worse. You probably wonder why I don't just add it up myself. I would, except BofA only keeps one year's worth of records. I realize disk space costs money, even if it isn't much money. But must I honestly accept that nobody at the nation's largest bank thought about the fact that one does one's taxes, at the earliest, in the 13th month? Is it really so hard to save two years' worth? Are your valued online customers not worth the extra few pennies a year? Sorry, BofA. This all fairly reeks of incompetence. You have no excuse, really, none. And you know what? You can keep your $70, I'd rather opt out of the interest than have to file for a tax extension just to get you to send me this simple bit of arithmetic. Now I have to make the odd choice of guessing (and overpaying) on my taxes, or putting them down to the wire in the hope of getting my information over the phone tomorrow, or requesting an annoying extension due to the shortsightedness of some bone-headed luddite manager at Bank of America. I'm more or less locked into BofA for payroll reasons, so I can't just ditch them. But I will certainly take a good look around this year and see if I can't find someone else to handle the rest of my banking. Someone, perhaps, who can do sums online; someone, perhaps, who can be bothered to live up to their own hype about "paperless" accounting. Maybe it's time to at least sign up for Mint, where I bet they keep your records for as long as their capital holds out. It's sad, really. They're pretty good at other things, and I didn't expect them to drop this ball so badly.


Osvipag said...

Do you know that your last statement for the year (usually January's) have a line added with the total interest paid for that year on that account. You don't need the form to complete your tax return. And please, if you let thing for last minute... don't blame others for that decision, if things go wrong or not according to your expectations.

frosty said...

Dear osvipag,

Whether I'm doing it at the last minute or on January 1st is irrelevant (though it adds to the frustration).

There was no notification the year before either, and I didn't realize it at the time, so there's nothing there to base my calculation on.

I went ahead and filed without that information, but after another half hour on the phone with BofA I got a little clarification:

* No 1099 was sent for my savings interest (correctly).
* The computer told me that on the phone, but refused to tell me online.
* I was unable to find out whether a 1099 was filed for the "Keep the Change" refunds; by my calculations it should have been, and there was no info about that.

So I appreciate your sentiment, but I respectfully disagree. My bank should have provided that information, clearly and electronically. My expectation is that I don't have to bend over backwards to get simple questions answered.

I have, however, signed up for Mint, and while it's still a little buggy it looks promising. More on that later.

Anonymous said...

i agree, too had lots of issues with BOFA inspite of calling them 10 times, and every time they say they are sending 1099, i dont get it inspite of my address and everything else being correct, this is irritating

Anonymous said...

whoever knows the bofa's federal identification number? i need it to finish my 2008 federal tax return. they send me no 1099-int at all even after 2 phone calls and losing of more than half of hour on groundless talk with stupid employee.

Shannon said...

Bank Of America is a joke....
Received my 1099A and they are stating that my property value of my home (fair market value) is doubled. I have called everyday for 3 weeks and I just get the runaround. Today is the deadline for filing taxes and if I don't receive the correction for the 1099 I will be paying interest on 15k.
BofA keeps telling me that I will receive a phone call within 72 hours. No call at all. I will be sure to have my 3 kids and husband pull their $$$ out of BofA by the end of the day!