Did your parents get paid more than they should have via Social Security? Even if the government THINKS they did, they can now seize YOUR IRS tax refund check to pay back the overage. That’s right, if the government thinks your parents were overpaid, IRS seizures are targeting the tax refunds of the children of those people it THINKS it overpaid.
This isn’t science fiction —it’s all too real. Since congress quietly lifted the 10-year statute of limitations on money owed to Uncle Sam in 2010, hundreds of thousands of Americans’ tax refunds have been confiscated. According to the Washington Post, the government has seized almost $2 billion in tax refunds already this year.
Now, debts going back decades are fair game and are being recouped by the IRS, with some debts going back to the 60s or 70s. Amazingly, the government is doing this even if it has little or no proof and no exact details. In many cases the IRS doesn’t even possess the original records of debts. Furthermore, the government sends frightening letters to taxpayers, using accusatory language, and clear financial threats.
Recently, the government seized Mary Grice’s (photo above) tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice, of Takoma Park, MD, didn’t realize the government had taken the money until she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government. The old debt was the result of Grice going on Social Security when she was 4, back in 1960. After Grice’s father died, her mother turned to Social Security to help feed and clothe Grice and four brothers and sisters. Grice and her siblings got Sole Survivor benefits until they were 18.
As usual, the government simply points fingers at other departments. Social Security claims it had nothing to do with it. The Treasury Department denies responsibility, and congress answers to no one.
If you think this is simply ridiculous, you’re right. But get used to it.
Tax refunds are clearly becoming the new incubator for revenue. IRS seizures are up. Government regulators and bureaucrats are desperate to raise new revenues, but hesitant to raise taxes. We already know that confiscating tax refunds are the only real way the IRS will be able to impose Obamacare non-compliance penalties, and now the Social Security Administration is riding the same horse.
At the heart of it is the fact that the government doesn’t need to provide any proof or real documentation, because no crime was committed. The likely cause of most overpayments is SSA errors. Social Security simply screwed up, and now expects the children (and grandchildren) of its serendipitous beneficiaries to pay up. And remember, the money comes out first before you know anything about it or can find out why it happened. They take the money and then they notify the tax payer.
You’ve already given the government a free loan for 12 months. Then, your tax refunds can be used as punishment—rightly or wrongly—for any ACA non-compliance. And now, your tax refund just might get seized by government bureaucrats who dropped the ball in the 60s or 70s and are looking for ways to make up their own deficits. And if one agency can pull this off, why wouldn’t other agencies go the same way?
Your only course of action is to fight back. Mary Grice has found an attorney who is working pro bono and using the courts to try to address this money grab. The lawyer seeks redress to the constitutional violations he sees in the retroactive lifting of the 10-year statute of limitations. The key questions are: Can the government really breathe life into a case that’s been dead for 40 or 50 years? And, is it right to seize a child’s money to satisfy their parent’s debt?
The Federal Trade Commission says that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But the SSA claim that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.
Write to your congressional leaders and ask them where they stand on this issue. It needs to be resolved quickly. IRS seizures should not be an inheritance.
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