IRS seizes refunds of taxpayers whose parents owe the government money
When are the sins of the father visited upon his children? When the IRS and Social Security Administration say so.
Holding children responsible for the debt incurred by their parents is a feature of historical feudalism and a few modern third-world shitholes.
Developed countries, by and large, assume that a debt dies with the person who willingly incurred it, or at least stops with his or her estate. "By and large," I write, because the U.S. government has broken with centuries of tradition holding individuals responsible for their choices, opting to withhold tax refunds from children whose parents incurred vague and often ill-documented obligations to the feds.
The case of Mary Grice, a Maryland resident, reveals just how much Obama has "transformed" America:
A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.
When 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.
“It was a shock,” said 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.”
Grice filed suit against the Social Security Administration in federal court in Greenbelt this week, alleging that the government violated her right to due process by holding her responsible for a $2,996 debt supposedly incurred under her father’s Social Security number.
Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.
They don't even have accurate records about these debts and yet still go after the descendants in trying to collect them? No notice, no chance to appeal - a brazen example of big government in action.
The new rules came about as a result of two changes to the law:
The new multi-generational debt collection practice required a two-step policy change. One was the elimination of the 10-year statute of limitations on debts to the federal government. The other involves the Social Security Administration insisting that if tiny tots indirectly benefited from public assistance collected by adults decades ago those now-grown ex-tots are responsible for any overpayments the feds may claim.
The elimination of the statute of limitations may, on its face, allow the government to go after individuals responsible for incurring debt, but the longer time horizon means accurate records can be hard to come by. According to Fisher, "Social Security officials told Grice they had no records explaining the debt."
How do you collect a debt that you can't prove exists? Through the sheer grinding weight of the state, of course.
Going after the next generation—which never made the decision to incur a debt to begin with—really is a massive break from previous policy.
The next step is going after children for their parent's tax debts. If someone dies leaving a debt to the IRS, the government can go after the estate of the dead person but that's where it stops. How long will it be before the IRS figures they can begin to dunn the children of delinquent taxpayers for old debts?
Unless Congress does something about this current policy, it won't be too long.