SPRING HILL - Fred Drexler said he's done nothing wrong and yet he feels like a victim.
Because of a snafu involving the U.S. Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service, Drexler got involved in a bureaucratic nightmare involving payment of $4,235 owed to the federal government.
Even though he mailed the payment to the IRS well ahead of the April 18 deadline, the post office misplaced it and Drexler almost had to pay $60 as a late penalty and interest charges.
It took the intervention of U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent to forgo the penalty and Drexler thought he was in the clear.
But last week Drexler got another letter from the IRS saying he was still responsible for the interest on the penalty.
He considers a letter he received from the IRS a bit of a slap in the face because it still paints him as the bad guy.
"We are pleased to inform you that your request to remove the penalty charged for failure to pay has been granted," the letter stated. "However, this action has been taken based solely on the fact that you have a good history of timely filing and timely paying."
The IRS went on to say that the penalty removal will be a "one-time consideration."
"The law does not permit us to remove interest for reasonable cause," the letter said.
Drexler, 70, said he considered hiring a lawyer to fight this further because he knows he was in the right and there is a principle involved.
But the Spring Hill resident said he plans to let the matter drop and pay whatever penalty interest the IRS requires, which will probably amount to about $20.
He doesn't want the IRS going into his bank accounts electronically.
"The IRS is definitely overstepping its bounds," Drexler told Hernando Today on Monday.
At a time when the IRS is battling an image problem because it targeted certain conservative groups during the 2012 general election, this is another black mark the agency doesn't need, he said.
"I feel like I'm the bad guy and have been penalized by the IRS for a mistake the post office made," Drexler said. "It's not only me. How many other people is this happening to?"
Drexler said he called his tax preparer Tammi Fernandez, a certified public accountant whose firm is off Deltona Boulevard, and she verified five others in the area went through the same ordeal.
Nugent said if the IRS has conceded Drexler wasn't at fault, he's uncertain why he's being charged interest.
"This is bureaucracy at its finest here," Nugent said in an email Tuesday. "We've still got criminals filing thousands of fraudulent returns and collecting millions and millions in fraudulent refunds, and the IRS is devoting precious resources to collecting interest from this man. Like so many things with this government, it just doesn't make much sense."
Linda Racine, consumer affairs manager with the U.S. Postal Service Suncoast District office in Tampa, said in a letter that Drexler mailed his envelope first-class, which doesn't provide for a detailed tracking system and is handled as ordinary mail through the system.
And even though the postmark clearly showed it was before the tax filing deadline, the post office returned his IRS check 40 days later.
Racine blamed the problem on an automation process mix-up. Drexler's letter went through the Postal Automated Redirection System, which searches for a change of address to forward the mail to, and because there was not one on file, it was endorsed as "return to sender" and unable to forward.
"The distribution system of the Postal Service is massive," Racine wrote. "Due to the volume of mail being processed during that busy period, processing and delivery delays were experienced."
"Regrettably, we are not in a position to provide compensation for any losses," Racine added. "Postal regulations restrict our liability to loss or damage claims for registered, insured C.O.C. mail and express mail."
Racine ended her letter to Drexler expressing her apologies.
Drexler said that doesn't help him now.
"I did everything right," he said.