Citing a troubling over-interpretation of the law, this tax day U.S. Senator Mark Begich expressed concern over reports that the federal government is intercepting tax refunds from people who had allegedly received wrongful Social Security payments.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that it would cease collections of alleged overpayments that in some cases are over 10 years old.
However, Begich was especially troubled by reports that family members of deceased Social Security beneficiaries had their tax refunds seized.
"I am pleased to see the Social Security Administration stop collecting on debts over 10 years old, but it's these kind of harebrained ideas that make Alaskans distrust federal bureaucrats in the first place," said Begich. "While they may have stopped collecting very old obligations, it is still just plain wrong to take this money from the children of parents who may or may not even owe money and it's time this practice stop immediately."
In a letter sent to Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Carolyn Colvin, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Begich writes:
"While I acknowledge the federal government has an obligation to collect outstanding debts, including those arising from overpayment of Social Security benefits, pursuing these claims against the children of alleged debtors is unacceptable. And where the taxpayer has no notice of the claim or forum in which to contest it, interception of a tax refund check is a particularly troubling abuse of authority.
" I urge you to immediately stop pursuing these claims with respect to the family members of alleged debtors.
"I would also like information from you about what recourse my constituents have for retrieving any money you have taken with previous collections, and I ultimately believe it is now the responsibility of the SSA to contact those already affected and provide information for how they may obtain refunds of those funds taken unjustly."