If the federal government says your parents owe them money, and your parents are now deceased, the government can come after you, even without proof of the debt. I was reading about this the other day and my laptop crashed, so I forgot about it. Thanks to reader Michigan for the reminder.
Two months ago, Mary Grice, a career employee at the Food and Drug Administration, was notified the U.S. Treasury had confiscated her state and federal tax refunds totaling $4,500.
The government had taken the money before she knew there was a problem.
“To be honest, I was ticked off,” Grice said. “I’m like ‘how can they intercept or take my funds without my first being notified about it?’”
The claim against her came from the Social Security Administration which said it overpaid death benefits to Mary’s family after her father Scott Grice died in 1960. Mary was five years old. In other words, without notice and for a debt that was not hers, the government had her refund seized anyway.
Her attorney Robert Vogel has sued, demanding the government stop these collections.
“The government should not be in the business of trying to collect 30-year-old debts from people,” Vogel said. “There is no way that people have any reason to keep their records for that long.”
This tracking of old debt stems from an obscure change in the 2008 farm bill that allows the government for the first time to seize debt more than 10 years old. (Read More)
Who keeps their records for that long? The IRS advises people to keep records for three years, and in certain instances seven years. Not ten, not thirty. The article goes on to say that there are over 400,000 Americans the Social Security Administration is going after for old debts, totaling over $700,000,000. I’m all for them recovering overpayments and stopping fraud, but going after the children of the deceased – children who are now adults and did nothing wrong – is way over the line.
At the same time, I’m kind of jealous and wish I could use them to got after the dead beat customer of my husband’s business who decided he doesn’t feel like paying his bill. Even if I could, I certainly wouldn’t go after the customer’s kids.