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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday April 15 2014, @04:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the Sins-of-the-Father-Visited-upon-the-Son dept.

The Washington Post reports that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them that because of a debt they never knew about often a debt incurred by their parents the government has confiscated their check sometimes on debts 20 or 30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them. Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family it's not sure who in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. "It was a shock," says Grice, 58. "What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can't prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus."

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, says Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department's debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam. The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that "family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets." But Social Security officials say 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. Many of the taxpayers whose refunds have been taken say they've been unable to contest the confiscations because of the cost, because Social Security cannot provide records detailing the original overpayment, and because the citizens, following advice from the IRS to keep financial documents for just three years, had long since trashed their own records. More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases but only about 10 percent of taxpayers have won those appeals. "The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter," says Brenda Samonds.." We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken."

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by mattie_p on Tuesday April 15 2014, @08:54PM

    by mattie_p (13) on Tuesday April 15 2014, @08:54PM (#31988) Journal
    Never mind, found it. They're still breaking the law, though.

    SEC. 14219. Elimination of Statute of Limitations Applicable to Collection of Debt by Administrative Offset.

    (a) Elimination.--Section 3716(e) of title 31, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

    ''(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, regulation, or administrative limitation, no limitation on the period within which an offset may be initiated or taken pursuant to this section shall be effective.

    [[Page 122 STAT. 2245]]

    ''(2) This section does not apply when a statute explicitly prohibits using administrative offset or setoff to collect the claim or type of claim involved.''.

    (b) > Application of Amendment.--The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply to any debt outstanding on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    Note it is an amendment to 31 USC 3716. The first portion of that law reads (emphasis mine):

    (a) After trying to collect a claim from a person under section 3711 (a) of this title, the head of an executive, judicial, or legislative agency may collect the claim by administrative offset. The head of the agency may collect by administrative offset only after giving the debtor--

    (1) written notice of the type and amount of the claim, the intention of the head of the agency to collect the claim by administrative offset, and an explanation of the rights of the debtor under this section;

    (2) an opportunity to inspect and copy the records of the agency related to the claim;

    (3) an opportunity for a review within the agency of the decision of the agency related to the claim; and

    (4) an opportunity to make a written agreement with the head of the agency to repay the amount of the claim.

    It does not appear that the bolded sections have been complied with. Can I get 1% of the profits from the class action suit now?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Reziac on Tuesday April 15 2014, @11:54PM

    by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 15 2014, @11:54PM (#32076) Homepage

    I read it a couple days ago, and my first thought was...

    How is this not an ex post facto law?

    Second, aren't they often punishing the innocent, who had fuck-all to do with the debt and ordinarily would not have inherited it?

    But third, I think this was intended for and will be used largely to confiscate desirable real estate from farmers and ranchers, in cases like the current Cliven Bundy flap in Nevada. There's probably not a farm or ranch out there that doesn't have some outstanding federal debt, however small. Which would explain what it's doing in the Farm Bill in the first place.