Monday, April 07, 2008

Me? Or, the official edition?

Revenue Canada---you know, that federal agency responsible for taxes and all sorts of official stuff---has changed my identity. Not by much, just the first letter of my given name, from a fairly common woman's name to something I've since discovered (thanks to Wikipedia) is a Dungeons and Dragons reference. They left my family name alone; my parents appreciate that.

It's nice to think that I don't personally owe taxes, but that I am so honourable, so benevolent as to pay the taxes of this other person who apparently shares my Social Insurance Number (the official series of numbers that represents a Canadian's life on file, that thing we're supposed to protect so as to avoid identity theft). My identity has been shifted, not stolen, so it doesn't worry me. Revenue Canada must have it on file somewhere.

While it's not pretty, I've been coping with my new four-letter name for a year now. Occasionally, I receive payment receipts and reminder slips in the mail for this, my significant tax-owing other, and it hasn't been a problem---not until recently. As is my nature, I've been lazy with filing my 2006 taxes, and Revenue Canada does not appreciate oversight. They do things strictly by the book, and they want to make sure this person with my SIN number knows that, so they sent a registered letter to my home. I knew it was from Revenue Canada immediately, because the post officer first made a Dungeons and Dragons reference and followed it with my family name when he buzzed my apartment. Only my buddies at Rev Can use that pet name for me.

Then, I ran into problems.

While, as far as Revenue Canada is concerned, I have a new name, as far as Canada Post is concerned, I have no corresponding identification to prove it. The post officer wouldn't give me the letter.

As is also my nature, I panicked. I know it's policy for Revenue Canada to send reminders around tax-time, and I know that's likely what the letter was about, but what if it was something else? Something more annoying and time-consuming? I needed to find out exactly what they wanted with the person with my SIN number before I'd be able to relax. So, I called. The number I had on file led to the voicemail of a man who'd be in meetings all day, so I called the alternate number he'd given. I told the default federal employee what had happened. He was incredulous, but lacked ideas for why I might lie about the incident.

With a familiar official, accusatory tone he said, "How, may I ask, did your name change?"

"That, " I answered, "is an excellent question. I preferred the one my parents picked out."

He gave me another number to call about the contents of the letter. That number was answered by a message saying that the voicemail box was full, that I should try again later. I did, again and again. No answer. Whoever I am, I won't be finding out what Revenue Canada wants, not until one of me can get through.

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