TAKOMA PARK, MD -- Tax day is coming.
The deadline is this Tuesday, and the IRS expects about $35 million taxpayers to file between now and then.
But some taxpayers are already getting a surprise: money taken out of their refund to pay debts their parents owed.
Maryland resident Mary Grice has been eagerly awaiting her tax return. But instead of a check, she got a notice in the mail. All of her 2013 tax return--$4,462--had been seized to make up for a government mistake back in 1977, the overpayment of her mother's social security benefits.
“I was literally given the run around,” Grice said. “They couldn't tell me who the overpayment had been made to, how long ago, what the amount was. I mean, there were literally no answers to my questions.”
A change in the 2008 Farm Bill now makes it possible for the government to go after old debts by seizing tax refunds from the children of those debtors. And since Mary's mother passed away, the government is now going after Mary who was a child at the time the mistake was made.
“You take my money and don't notify me; that's not fair to me,” she said.
For now, the Social Security administration is standing by its decision, telling the Washington Post “we have an obligation to current and future (Social Security) beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.”
Still, there may be hope for people like Mary Grice who are now getting some support in congress. Two senators are taking up her cause, saying while these seized refunds “might be allowed under the law, it is entirely unjust.”