This blows my mind. If your parents were (maybe) overpaid by the government for things like social security or welfare, you will have to repay it, even if it was 30 years ago. This from the Washington Post (April 10):
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.
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. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.
We all know our government is the world’s best accountant, so their record must be right. Right? Who’s with me? No one? Hello? I guess you’re right, it turns out that even though the Social Security Administration was sending Grice’s SS checks to her current address, they were sending notices of this debt to her old address from 1977. OK, maybe their record-keeping is pretty shoddy. But you still owe them whatever they say. It’s like the old child’s game — “I’m thinking of a number between $100 and $100,000…”
Debts belong to adult individuals or adult married couples. They do not pass down through generations, or else Bernie Madoff’s great grandkids are going to be bumming. We do not have debtor’s prisons. Oh, wait, we are trying to bring them back.
This feels like the freedom pendulum swinging towards business and government rather than having laws which protect individuals from those with more power. Because of this, you are going to have to start keeping your parents old tax returns for 50 years in a vain attempt to save yourself from retroactive penalty. Because there is no recourse here. Also from the Washington Post:
Grice was also told there was little point in seeking a waiver of her debt. Collections can only be halted if the person passes two tests, Clark said: The taxpayer must prove that he “is without fault, and [that] repayment of the overpayment would deprive the person of income needed for ordinary living expenses.”
More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases, Clark said; taxpayers have won about 10 percent of those appeals.
Now if the Social Security Administration can just combine this with the NSA snooping databases, they can start demanding money from you if you say bad things about the government. Uh, um, right. About that. I’m not saying bad things. This isn’t critique. Really, sir. This is just a light-hearted reflection on Labradoodles, this year’s designer dog: