Thursday, August 09, 2007

Eyebrows Loves Bureaucracy

I was filling out a W-4 today and, as I always do, took my passport for my supporting document. I've never had a problem before. Not so today. Now, this is not verbatim; this is basically the gist of the argument I had with the woman. I gave her my passport, and she said, "I need your social security card."

"No you don't, you have my passport."

"I need your SSC so we can file your tax paperwork."

"No you don't."

"It's the employment eligibility document."

"So's a passport. They're only given to U.S. citizens; therefore, DEFINITIONALLY, if I possess a US passport, I am eligible to work in this country." (I did say that part.)

"The law says you have to have give me your social security card."

"The law is right here on the back of the W-4 and quite clearly states I can use my passport. It's the VERY FIRST document listed." (I wasn't so snippy about that part.)

And here we get to the real reason: "Well, EVERYBODY ELSE gives me their drivers' license and social security card!"

But, as my mother always told me, I am not everybody else. (And she's not everybody else's mother.) I didn't say that, though. After arguing about it with me further, she finally agreed to take the passport but warned me darkly that I'd probably have to come back because my paperwork was inadequate.


Jimi said...

Ahhh, sweet, sweet bureaucrats safely ensconced behind a desk. Love your damn the torpedoes attitude!

Anonymous said...

Do you mean your I-9 form? I don't think you need your passport for your W-4. Anyway, it is illegal for employers to ask for SPECIFIC documents for the I-9 form. They are supposed to just show you the list of what they can and cannot accept to establish identity and the right to work in the US.

Chef Kevin said...

I hire people all the time. While I can not ask for a SPECIFIC document for an I-9, I am required by law to obtain information from either: one document from list A or two from list B and one from list C. We have to record said information and provide it to the government.

Vieva said...

I would like to point out, also, that non-citizens can have both a driver's license AND a social security card. A passport should be BETTER ID!

Anonymous said...

The move to the "Real ID" will require a document very much like a passport. The states are suppose to move to real id next year but are pushing back because it is an unfunded mandate, and they say it will cost millions. If you think that getting a passport in the last year has been bad wait till everyone has to go through the same process.

Jennifer said...

I had a similar problem with my kids' immunization forms. The school wanted proof that they had had the chicken pox vaccine; they hadn't had it, because they had had the chicken pox. I read the paperwork and it states you can object to a vaccination/vaccinations and had a place to sign. I signed there. The secretary said "you can't do that." I'm, like, "um, it says here I have the right to." Her response: "well, we don't like people to do that." Really? well, does what you like supercede the law? Really? I had to speak to three different people before they would accept my legal right, that was stated right on their paperwork. So frustrating!
(BTW I am not anti-vaccine, it just seemed silly to put my kids through a shot for an illness they had already had.)

Ms. PH said...

I frequently travel with my passport as identification rather than having to show my drivers license, even if I am only traveling within the United States. I find that it is easier to keep track of and you can stick your boarding pass in it like a folder.

At most major airports, nobody cares. However, everytime I do this at the Peoria airport when they ask for a picture ID, the ticket agent sees the passport and tells me, "I need to see your drivers license." I say, "No, you don't. My passport is actually just fine." Last time (in June), the ticket agent had to get his supervisor. Very frustrating.

anon e. mouse said...

"the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the growing needs of the bureaucracy"

Cory said...

I heard somewhere once that passports are the only real proof of citizenship. Can someone verify this?

Anonymous said...


cutting n pasting from a post I made a ways back:

Here's a challenge for you.
I have held that one of the flaws of our immigration system is that less is more. The less documentation you have the more you look like a citizen.

Here's a challenge for you, prove you are a citizen of the United States.

A few things tho...

1) You can't use your driver's license. Anyone can get one of those. You have 50 states plus territories (like Puero Rico) to choose from.

2) You can't use your birth certificate. You carry this around? Didn't think so and they are easily forged. Also, just because you are born in this country does not mean you are citizen here. Citizen's can be born abroad too. What you say? Isn't that a foundation of our citizenship process? Mmm no.

3) You can't use your social security card. There is no picture, no fingerprint, nothing more than a name printed on it. Nothing on that card firmly ties it to you, Mr. Juan Valdez. They are also fairly easy to get. The Social Security card is truelly the golden ticket to live in the U.S.. Citizens and non Citizens alike can have them and there is NOTHING that distinguishes them. Once you have one of these, you can live here with impunity. You don't need authorization to work to get one of these. You do need one of these to be 'authorized' to work.

Now please... prove you are citizen.

The correct answer is...
your passport. Now those of you with passports will no doubtedly observe that the documents needed to get a passport are the very ones I debunked in an earlier post. True True but what is different is that a) someone at the state department, who is more expert than you or I, is looking at them, better able to discern their authenticity. Employers have no such requirement nor training. b) the government (that is We the People) declares you a citizen. Our constitution provides that our government can determine who is and who is not a citizen. We the people decide that. If you have a passport, you most certainly are a citizen. [there are some exceptions where a government can issue a passport to a non citizen but those are quite rare.]

No one is required to get a passport. In many countries their passport is their national ID. For Americans traveling abroad, it is your ID too. Lose it and you may be screwed. Immigrants and guest workers in the U.S. who enter legally are REQUIRED to have a passport. You are not. Hmm... so if you want to look like a U.S. citizen... ditch the passport. You do need your passport to re-enter the U.S. but once you are home, you can safely tuck it into a secure place. No one will ever ask for it in the U.S.

Since 9/11 there have been some attempts to create a national ID card. Ideally, this ID would be available and required of all citizens to get. Time and again, the polling suggests that the public is solidly opposed to a national ID card. People are concerned about big brother intrusion. As such, legislation has stalled. Fair enough... but recognize that a national ID would be something available to citizens and not to foreigners. So... you couldn't set up a requirement that says show a national ID or a work permit, in order to get a job. Instead our system now allows for immigrants to produce flawed, easily obtained, or forged documents that... well... everyone can have. Forget the work permit. Less is more.


Brad Carter said...

Good job for standing up for your rights! I can't believe I haven't thought of this before. You have given these people a large headache as I am sure they have no idea how to deal with this situattion. Therefore, because of lack of knowledge for her job, this lady will probably be requesting to view your SSC in the near future.
Questions: Am I correct in assuming that if you do not provide a SSN, the employer cannot with hold taxes? If so, do you save money throughtout the year to pay the "volunteer" income tax?

Kevin Lowe said...

"We had to destroy the village to save it."

Anonymous said...


The IRS has a legal means for you to pay taxes without a valid SSN. It has been used by many illegals and employers for years.

It is called:
The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN),,id=96287,00.html


Grandma's Attic said...

Ahhh really are a lawyer! :)