Category Archives: Tax Refund

IRS chases taxpayers for old debts

Magnifying GlassSocial Security, Treasury target taxpayers for their parents’ decades-old debts

On April 10, the Washington Post led with a story that created an uproar and outrage by taxpayers across the country.  The story focused on the seizure of tax refunds by the government to repay debt that was, in some instances, decades old.

“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.

Update from Forbes.  The SSA has suspended its scope of more than 10 years.  Meaning, they will not pursue alleged over-payments on any taxpayer more than 10 years.  But, did you know that the government gave itself the right to chase taxpayers for old debts indefinitely. And the easiest way to do it is through an offset. Where you ask?  When?

“To be clear, the government has long had the authority to seize tax refunds to pay back certain obligations (more on that in a moment), but in 2008, the rules that limited the time to seize funds were rewritten. The change was made in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 – sometimes called “the farm bill” – since, as you know, Congress is terribly fond of tossing bits of new law into totally unrelated bills (like those credit card reporting requirements inserted into the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 or how a bill called the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 turned into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The provision, tucked near the back of the Act, which clocks in at more than a quarter million words, says simply:

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, regulation, or administrative limitation, no limitation on the period within which an offset may be initiated or taken pursuant to this section shall be effective. (2) This section does not apply when a statute explicitly prohibits using administrative offset or setoff to collect the claim or type of claim involved.”

SSA’s announcement might have been a relief to some taxpayers but the law is still on the books. And so long as the law authorizes government agencies to collect on those old debts, taxpayers could be in danger of having their tax refunds seized for years to come.

And remember,  that the IRS can go as far as they want to if they suspect fraud, so make sure your taxes and records are in order, and have your taxes prepared by a tax professional, such as a CPA or EA.

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As the Tax Season ends, IRS answers: Where’s My Refund?

Larger IRSIR-2014-54, April 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — With the close of the tax filing season, the vast majority have filed their income tax returns and received their income tax refunds. As of last Friday, the IRS had received almost 113 million tax returns and issued more than 85 million refunds, about 78 percent of all the refunds the agency will issue this year.

However, taxpayers who have not yet received their refunds can use the “Where’s My Refund?” on or on the smartphone application IRS2Go 4.0 to find out about the status of their income tax refunds. As of April 11, 2014, Where’s My Refund? has been accessed almost 160 million times.

The Where’s My Refund?tool enables taxpayers to track the status of their refund. Initial information will normally be available within 24 hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mails a paper return to the IRS. The system updates only once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so there’s no need to check more often.

Taxpayers should have their Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount when accessing Where’s My Refund?

Taxpayers can find more information about refunds and other tax topics at

Cumulative statistics comparing 4/12/13 and 4/11/14
Individual Income Tax Returns: 2013 2014 % Change
Total Receipts 112,403,000 112,741,000 0.3
Total Processed 103,880,000 110,266,000 6.1
E-filing Receipts:
TOTAL 99,787,000 101,289,000 1.5
Tax Professionals 62,163,000 61,956,000 -0.3
Self-prepared 37,624,000 39,332,000 4.5
Web Usage:
Visits to 278,307,884 251,540,768 -9.6
Total Refunds:
Number 84,581,000 85,262,000 0.8
Amount    $229.607   Billion   $234.547   Billion 2.2
Average refund $2,715 $2,751 1.3
Direct Deposit Refunds:
Number 69,680,000 69,924,000 0.3
Amount    $202.188   Billion   $202.167   Billion -0.01
Average refund $2,902 $2,891 -0.4