Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

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Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby operabuff » Sat Apr 12, 2014 5:13 pm

Sadly providing another example of big government out of control:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ ... story.html

It sounds like SSA must have certified these past due amounts to the Treasury Offset Program, under section 6402(d). It's a good program when administered well - after all, why should the government refund taxes to someone who owes it money. But the taxpayer should have notice in advance that this can happen. Sadly, if the debt has been properly certified, a tax refund suit can't get it back. The taxpayers' only relief here is to go to the SSA. Good luck with that.

It seems to me that the SSA should have used better judgment here. As usual, the IRS will get the blame, even though the whole process is entirely out of their control. Treasury's FMS division manages the TOP program. IRS has no input.

Follow up story, providing a little more background:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ ... ml?hpid=z1

So it looks like Congress bears some blame for this - but just because a federal agency has the power to do this, doesn't mean they should. Going after the primary debtor might be ok, but pursuing people who were kids when their parents got money they maybe shouldn't have is over the top. I'd also have my doubts as to how good those 40 year old records are. It's a safe bet that the SSA beneficiaries will no longer have any records of their own with which to contest these debts. (Which is why periods of limitation exist)

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Re: Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:27 am

The most disturbing aspect of this is the inability to find the persons who influenced and thus ultimately authored the change in the farm bill that allowed it to happen. :twisted:
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Re: Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby operabuff » Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:59 am

Sanity prevails. . .

ww.washingtonpost.com/politics/social-security-stops-trying-to-collect-on-old-taxpayer-debts/2014/04/14/9355c58e-c40f-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html?hpid=z1

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Re: Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby operabuff » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:41 pm

Apparently it's still going on.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/sei ... ml?hpid=z2

Hard to tell from this article whether SSA has actually stopped certifying these or not. It could be just a few last ones working their way through the system. But it's good to know that some people are getting their money back.

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Re: Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby operabuff » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:43 pm

operabuff wrote:Sanity prevails. . .

ww.washingtonpost.com/politics/social-security-stops-trying-to-collect-on-old-taxpayer-debts/2014/04/14/9355c58e-c40f-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html?hpid=z1


Looking back, I see that this link was incomplete. Here's a working link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ ... story.html

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Re: Old SSA debts offset against tax refunds

Postby Famspear » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:12 pm

One point that should be made clear is that merely repealing a 10 year statute of limitations in some farm bill would not, in and of itself, necessarily authorize the government to offset tax refund claims of children, etc., for the Social Security-related debts of their parents. There would have to be some specific provision of law that allows that (and there may or may not be -- I don't know).

In U.S. federal tax law, there is such a thing as transferee liability. But there are specific rules. Without a specific law, the government cannot legally seize property of person #2 to satisfy a tax owed by person #1 -- regardless of whether person # 2 somehow may have benefitted in some way, or not.

Edit: From the linked article:

Grassley [Senator Charles Grassley] said that although Congress did authorize the government to seek payment on old debts, the law “says nothing about allowing the government to offset payments from an individual to pay debts not in his or her name. It is unclear where the government has that authority.”
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