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As you are reading Dailykos because you are tired of working on your tax return with only 5 days to go before you give up and send in the extension, I would recommend an outrageous (and long story) in the Washington Post about a program now on the radar where the feds are seizing Federal and State tax refunds to satisfy old social security overpayments sometimes made to the deceased parents of the targets. The Post reports that " The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years.... " Apparently the farm bill, in addition to cutting SNAP benefits, also relaxed the 10 year Statue of Limitations on going after government debts. SSA referred 400,000 cases to Treasury. Seizing refunds

In the main case discussed in the article. The Treasury seized $2,996 dollars from a woman for survivor benefits paid to her mother more than 30 years ago for an alleged overpayment in 1977. She is suing to recover the funds. Social Security claims they have no records to document the alleged overpayment that Treasury seized.

The craziest part of this whole thing is the way the government seizes a child’s money to satisfy a debt that child never even knew about,” says Robert Vogel, Grice’s attorney. “They’ll say that somebody got paid for that child’s benefit, but the child had no control over the money and there’s no way to know if the parent ever used the money for the benefit of that kid.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Overpayments to deceased parents (10+ / 0-)

    should never be recoverable from the children. That's an outrage and it seems illegal to me.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 09:10:00 PM PDT

  •  Grotesque (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MyLifeInKenya, allie4fairness, a2nite

    The IRS is probably the best recruiting tool the Tea Baggers could ever have. It truly embodies everything they say about big government.

    I haven't had the pleasure of dealing with them, but just about everyone I know who has describes it as a miserable experience.

    If what this article alleges they are doing is true than shame on them and anyone who is allowing them to do it.

    The American people deserve better.

    •  I have dealt with them a number of times (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      celdd

      Each time I sent documentation to prove my tax return was correct and they dropped the collection request.

      Republican tax policies have led to financial conditions which have caused Republicans to demand cuts to programs they have always opposed.

      by AppleP on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 04:08:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  IRS doesn't write the law, Congress does. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, Lencialoo
      Apparently the farm bill, in addition to cutting SNAP benefits, also relaxed the 10 year Statue of Limitations on going after government debts. SSA referred 400,000 cases to Treasury. Seizing refunds
       IRS is only a branch of the Treasury.

      My Karma just ran over your Dogma

      by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:05:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our federal corporation issues our currency and (0+ / 0-)

    has a right, if not a duty, to regulate how and by whom the currency, a utility, is used. It's the Congress' obligation to establish the rules which the Congress obviously did when it revised the statute of limitations on obligations owed to the federal corporation.
    That the President signs off on legislation does not make him the originator of the law. However, one suspects that in this case, the executive branch made a suggestion to the legislative branch about a mechanism that would return dollars to the Treasury to be counted, and to be sent out again.
    Consider it an effort to promote recycling.

    For some reason, recycling is not popular with binary folk. Perhaps they don't understand the concept of the eternal return. Although the supply of currency is infinite in theory, to keep it moving it has to be returned to the Treasury at a good clip.
    In the cited case, the Treasury likely made a mistake. That's why the person replied to the claim with a suit in court instead of just paying up.
    The Obama administration is keen to explicate how the law works at every opportunity and that includes making examples of when it doesn't work. We wouln't know about the mistake, if the Treasury hadn't tried to collect.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 11:55:40 PM PDT

    •  Actually it is the Federal Reserve, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Mr Robert

      a collection of private banks, that issues our currency, not the United States government.

      •  I'm wondering how the IRS (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob, wilderness voice, Mr Robert

        came up with a supposed 37-year old overpayment debt that the SSA says it was not aware of and has no documentation to demonstrate. That looks a whole lot more like theft than 'mistake'.

        Meaning IRS could simply have a list of people who grew up receiving SS survivorship payments and simply seize their refund any time they like while claiming an overpayment long ago about which no one in or out of government has any evidence for.

        Is this sort of thing being directed through the NSA/et al. against people whose phone list and internet habits Big Brother doesn't think are kosher?

        There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

        by Joieau on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:33:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder this too, (0+ / 0-)

          although I leaned more towards the IRS long trying to collect this, and the "victim" finally having a return to seize.

          And while I wouldn't be surprised by evidence supporting your ending speculation, in the absence of that evidence I'm afraid you have drifted into the prohibited CT zone, thus no rec.

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          The NSA isn't working to collect a few hundred bucks at a time after an extensive data-gathering effort.

          •  Of course they aren't. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ypochris

            IRS, on the other hand, is famous for it. Back in the late '80s our house burned down. Took just about everything we had, including all the costumes and props for our family business (entertainment) as well as the sewing machine I used to make the costumes, and all paperwork on upcoming gigs to 6 months in the future.

            So on the next year's return I deducted the losses from the income, and got another break per instructions on the cost of a new sewing machine and materials to replace, plus new juggling equipment and other props. The IRS decided to ADD the losses to our income and proceed to bill us back taxes on that windfall. We fought with them over this simple and stupid mistake - on THEIR part - for years, but in order to keep them from seizing and freezing our bank account we ended up paying full taxes over a period of years on everything we lost when our home burned down.

            Yes, it was blatant theft. No, we could not afford a lawyer and shouldn't have needed one on something so absolutely cut-and-dried - the house burned down. We lost everything. What else is there to argue about, except maybe the valuation of assets lost? I asked myself then and still occasionally ask now how come these folks don't go after rich people's cheating on taxes. Where they could no doubt justify the expenditure with the amount they'd get in return to pad the gub'ment's coffers.

            There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

            by Joieau on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 09:11:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

              Yeah, total assholery from the IRS to you there.  I'm sure it happens plenty.

              But that said, I don't get the jump to the NSA or political targeting?  Or was that just sarcasm.

              As far as rich people go, that is where almost all the enforcement activity takes place.  The IRS recommended $37 billion of additional taxes for 2013:  $16 billion from corporations, $4 billion for estate and gift taxes, $1 billion for excise taxes.  That's almost all wealthy people off the top.

              Of the $14 billion that came from individuals at all, most of it was aimed at the wealthy, with incomes over $200,000.  Under that, under 1% of returns are audited.

              •  2013? Well, THAT certainly shows (0+ / 0-)

                that they've taken some steps in the right direction. In 1989 (through 1994, which is how long they confiscated our refunds to pay the bogus bill) they seemed to like going after poor people more.

                One of the letters threatening seizure came from Atlanta, "Section D" at IRS. So I called and asked to speak with so-and-so (signer) in Section D. When talking to these people and explaining the error, they ALL told me they were sorry, it would be corrected right away. Then the next thing you know, they were threatening to seize again.

                The guy who answered the phone was agast - "Section D?!? NOBODY talks to Section D!!!" I told him to put me through anyway. Section D told me they'd correct the error right away...

                And yeah. I forget sometimes to add a snark tag to something only I think is obvious.

                There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

                by Joieau on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:16:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  In reply to the following statement (0+ / 0-)
      Our federal corporation issues our currency and has a right, if not a duty, to regulate how and by whom the currency, a utility, is used
      Right or wrong, for good or ill, this is exactly why I so firmly support the idea behind Bitcoins; a currency that is NOT under the control of a Federal Corporation.  Interestingly, our Federal Corporation is trying to find sleazy ways to get their grubby paws into the Bitcoin circle and by extension trying to defeat the express purpose of Bitcoins.  Fortunately, I see it sleeping through their fingers like sand does with a clenched fist.

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:48:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Follow Up Since this is about "rule of law" (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't think of this until after I hit post.

        Ultimately, as Hannah's recent diary points out:

        the people have a right to have a voice in the laws that govern them.
        The rise in Bitcoin is one of the ways in which the People are voicing an opinion contrary to that of the Federal Corporation.  They are in essence saying that they have either lost faith in the Federal;y Regulated Currency or they do not like the strings attached to the use of the Federally Regulated Currency.  In essence, they are expressing their voice about the laws that some wish to lord over them and rejecting them.

        "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

        by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:52:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Feds (0+ / 0-)

          can and have seized a massive amount of bitcoins, such as  from Silk Road.  Large sums of bitcoins have been stolen from exchanges, more than once. Bitcoin structure grossly favors early adopters.  Bitcoin is not green - bitcoin mining consumes about 30MW of power 24/7/365.

        •  I...what? (0+ / 0-)

          What problems with a federally regulated currency are solved by bitcoin that are greater than the benefits of a federally-regulated currency?

          •  In theory, traceability (0+ / 0-)

            Try to perform moderately large transactions in dollars and you will have .gov involved.  Try to use a credit/debit card and there is an accounting trail of who, what, when, and where.

            In theory, at least, this isn't the case with Bitcoin.  

            One may not have anything to hide, but that doesn't mean that .gov should be looking at their business.  Privacy is a right and virtue of its own.

            "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

            by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 10:34:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In theory (0+ / 0-)

              Of course, traceability is a two way street.  The accounting trail on your credit card protects you from fairly-regular fraudulent charges.  Bitcoin's network itself may be secure, but it wouldn't protect you vulnerabilities based on keyloggers, or phishing, or getting hit with a wrench until you give up your wallet.  

              Conversely, your anonymity with bitcoin doesn't extend too far out, whether your computer is compromised, or your correspondent gives up the e-mail address he's been using to talk to you.  Or if you're buying something that needs shipping.

    •  What (0+ / 0-)

      What is the "federal corporation"?

  •  Btw, an obligation to return certificates of debt, (0+ / 0-)

    official IOUs, to the issuing agency is not a government debt. The dollars are owed to the Treasury, not by the Treasury. There's a big difference. It's important to keep straight in which direction the action flows.
    The normal flow of the currency is from the Treasury to the citizenry and back again. It's the eternal return. That's why we file tax returns to tell how much we sent in so the Treasury has something to check and see if it's correct. Tax returns, btw, are voluntary in the sense that, if not enough dollars have been used (earned and spent), then there's no obligation to send in a statement at all. Some conservatives consider people who don't file returns to be flawed and fault them, but using currency is entirely optional. We can register our debts to each other verbally or even with a hand-shake, but those methods are less reliable when the words are written on the wind or the fingers on the other hand are crossed.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 12:13:32 AM PDT

    •  Not quite (0+ / 0-)

      You have to file an income tax return if you have a certain amount of income.  Doesn't have anything to do with your spending, in dollars or otherwise.  

      However, the question of whether or not you have income does not require you to receive that income in dollars or any currency.  A verbal agreement to exchange labor for room and board, say, still generates income to the worker that has to be reported (and taxed).

  •  Just another reason why being in the (7+ / 0-)

    position to receive a tax refund is bad.

    With the primary reason being "why give the government an interest free loan?"

    •  You're right, with 2 caveats: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, Roadbed Guy, Nance

      1. Some people are bad at saving and, instead of correcting that, choose to have their withdrawings at a level where they will get a return, and

      2. Tax credits and rebates exceed the standard deduction, so even if they have their W-4's right, they would still get a return.

      It's A LOT to ask anyone who isn't an accountant to try to underpay their taxes by the perfect amount as to offset expected rebates and credits.

      While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 05:01:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  People understand this, but just love the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, blackhand

      feeling of joy they get when they get a refund.

    •  I used to work at a company that hired a lot (0+ / 0-)

      of illegal aliens to work one of the production lines.  According to the HR coordinator, they would frequently claim high numbers of dependents in order to minimize the amount of taxes withheld.  They would then proceed to complain that was withheld was their money being stolen from them.  

      I am certain that none of these individuals filed tax returns and used bogus SS# to file their withholding values.

      "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

      by blackhand on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 07:56:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Advance notice? (0+ / 0-)

    When the IRS is going to seize a refund for debts such as back child support, or back tax overpayments, they send a notice out ahead of time warning you that it's going to happen. People often ignore those, and then claim never to have gotten it, but they do get sent. I would assume that with the Social Security debts there is a similar system for notifying people that they owe the money. But people ignore them, figuring it will just go away.

    I don't have a huge problem with the government saying: If you owe us money, we will collect it, by offsetting it against what we owe you.

    Here in RI we have a guy with a $6 million judgment against him from years and years ago (for causing serious and permanent bodily injury to someone), which he has never made any effort to pay, and now he's arguing that it's been so long that the court should just forget about enforcing it. Jerk.

    •  We were told we got an advance notice. (0+ / 0-)

      We didn't.

      NJ simply took the overpayment in unemployment benefits my husband supposedly received 20+ years ago.

      We did get a letter after the fact that explained how we had received advance notice and how to object. It didn't seem worth it.

    •  Advance notice? (0+ / 0-)

      Do you have a problem with your tax refund being seized to pay off a debt which they can't prove you incurred ?

      The idea that people owe on their parents debts is just ludicrous.  But, what is truly crazy here is the fact that
      the SS administration can't document the supposed over-payments made to a deceased mother.

      The possibility exists that NO over-payments were made.

  •  Clearly a reason to save your returns and data (0+ / 0-)

    for as many years as you can. Once we received a demand for $5000 from our state for a return filed 12 years prior. I was able to find the return along with cancelled checks to prove we had paid. The revenue clerk just shrugged and said , "Oops, sorry, I guess we made a mistake.". Without that data, we would have had no choice but to pay.

  •  Another example of outsourcing gone wrong? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Be Skeptical

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    The Social Security spokeswoman said the agency uses a private contractor to seek current addresses and is supposed to halt collections if notices are returned as undeliverable.

    I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

    by Just Bob on Fri Apr 11, 2014 at 08:00:03 AM PDT

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