Man mistakenly receives $20,000 bill from the IRS

@maxxfenning/TikTok Lane V. Erickson/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘The gall, the gumption, and the audacity’: Man mistakenly receives $20,000 bill from the IRS

'Everyone, please write your congressmen/women/people.'


V Roth


Posted on Oct 30, 2023   Updated on Nov 1, 2023, 6:00 pm CDT

A TikToker was left shocked by a reading error that resulted in him receiving a $20,000 bill and a $4,000 fine from the IRS, accusing him of underreporting his income. 

In a video from last week, TikTok user Maxx Fenning (@maxxfenning) shares, in a poetically dramatic monologue, the story of the IRS mixup. He explains that he received a letter from the IRS, informing him that he owed over $20,000 in taxes, and was also issued a $4,000 fine for underreporting his 2021 income. 

“First of all,” Fenning says, “I’m a completely different person from the man I was in 2021 and last I checked, you can’t collect taxes from the deceased. But secondly, I didn’t even make that much money in 2021.” 



♬ original sound – Maxx Fenning

Fenning explains that upon reading the IRS’s letter, which he describes as an “eight-page manifesto of lies,” he realized the error– having reported $800.00 in income, this was mistakenly interpreted as $80,000. 

Upon attempting to notify the IRS of the error, Fenning says that he was told that he could submit a petition to dispute the charges, in addition to a $60 filing fee. 

“Queen, quit the accounting career and become a comedian,” Fenning says, addressing the absurdity of the situation. 

The IRS representative that Fenning spoke to then informed him that he could fax a form to them instead. Begrudgingly, Fenning decided to give it a shot, and went to FedEx to attempt to fax in the proper forms. 

However, he soon encountered another roadblock– the IRS’s fax line was busy, and could not receive his documents. 

“You mean to tell me that the single number provided to all 300 million Americans cannot accept more than one document at a time?” Fenning asks incredulously. 

Finally, after 10 minutes of waiting, Fenning was able to send in proof of his income to the IRS to dispute the charges. 

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Fenning expressed his frustration with the matter, saying “What could have been a simple process was so convoluted.”

He shared that being able to address the clerical error felt like a marker of privilege, as he had the time and resources to expend on disputing the claim, while many others do not and may find themselves in troubling situations.

“Everyone, please write your congressmen/women/people,” he says in his video, “to include Gmail, or even Outlook, in the federal budget.” 

In the caption, Fenning wrote “A CALL TO ACTION.” By Monday, his video had 5.9 million views. 

Many commenters praised Fennig for his dramatic, over-the-top storytelling and witty one-liners. 

“Somebody get this man an Oscar. Thank you,” one user wrote. 

Others shared their own stories, commiserating over the difficulty of dealing with IRS errors. 

“I sat on hold for 2 hours and 45 minutes,” another shared, “just for the irs to tell me “ohhhh u did file ur taxes lol we just didn’t see it yet! ur good!” (in JUNE)” 

“I’m a bookkeeper, my nonprofit client got fined $600 for being late filing a 990EZ when it was the IRS fault…” another wrote. 

Errors from the IRS, such as overcharging, double-charging, or inaccurately calculating tax returns are not uncommon. The IRS offers several different options for disputing inaccurate charges or other issues, but many report that attempting to dispute IRS charges or investigations can be a long, grueling process with a mountain of paperwork involved. 

For particularly challenging cases, it may be necessary to consult a tax attorney. Many commenters on Fenning’s video suggested that he do this, as the charges levied against him by the IRS were so high and due to no error on his part. 

In response to a comment, Fenning shared that he has to wait 45 days before hearing back about his case. 

In a particularly concerning trend in the comments, many told Fenning that he shouldn’t worry about the discrepancy, insisting that taxes are fundamentally illegal. Fenning addressed one of such comments in a follow up video, clarifying that taxes are indeed enshrined in the U.S. constitution.

Fenning found that he was able to connect with a wide variety of people, including those whose other political beliefs he likely would not agree with, as many set their differences aside to connect over the shared frustration of dealing with the IRS.

“I think I bridged a bipartisan divide,” he told the Daily Dot.

The Daily Dot reached out to Fenning via email. This article was updated Nov. 1, following an interview with Fenning.

We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Share this article
*First Published: Oct 30, 2023, 3:07 pm CDT