Bobby Musgrove says in whole, the IRS now owes him greater than $10,000 due to the mix-up.
BROWN COUNTY, Ind. — Bobby Musgrove is in coaching. This summer season, he hopes to grow to be one of many first dialysis sufferers to hike all 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Path. For a man with critical kidney illness, Bobby is in actually fine condition.
However don’t attempt telling that to the IRS.
“They imagine I’m deceased,” he instructed 13News, slowly repeating himself. “The IRS believes I’m deceased.”
“Deceased” is the designation the IRS at present has on file for Bobby Musgrove. After just some minutes speaking with Bobby and observing him intently, it’s fairly clear the IRS received this one unsuitable.
“Yeah, I’m nonetheless right here. Positively not useless,” he mentioned whereas chuckling.
Bobby has humorousness, however being killed by the IRS is a significant issue that’s strained his endurance. As a result of the IRS thinks he’s useless, Bobby by no means received his first stimulus examine. Or the second. Or the third. He says the IRS additionally owes him a number of years of tax refunds.
The Columbus, Indiana resident says in whole, the IRS now owes him greater than $10,000 due to the mix-up.
“That’s quite a lot of revenue that I really want,” he defined. “I’m begging to be alive within the system and may’t do it.”
Why he’s useless
The issue began with a complicated letter from the Social Safety Administration providing condolences about Bobby’s demise. He instantly contacted his native Social Safety workplace to alert the company of the error.
A month later, Social Safety despatched an apology, admitting it made a mistake. However the harm was carried out. Social Safety had already included Bobby’s demise in its Dying Grasp File, which is shared with the Inner Income Service. And as soon as the IRS thinks you’re useless, you’re basically useless.
“It’s troublesome to unwind the knowledge as soon as it’s within the IRS’s system that somebody is useless,” mentioned Leslie Ebook, a Villanova College regulation professor who additionally sits on the board of the Heart for Taxpayer Rights. “Regardless of the supply of the issue is, you’d suppose it will be simpler to repair. That’s it’s persevered this lengthy is troubling.”
The issue has persevered for 2 years, regardless of Bobby’s repeated requests to the IRS to revive him within the company’s data. He even visited the IRS workplace within the downtown Indianapolis federal constructing so he may meet face-to-face with IRS employees. Bobby says he took his delivery certificates, state identification and former tax returns with him to the assembly. That also wasn’t sufficient to get the issue resolved.
“They checked out me and mentioned ‘We imagine you,’ however they nonetheless couldn’t repair something,” Bobby instructed 13News, shaking his head in disgust. “They are saying it’s a Social Safety downside that Social Safety wants to repair. I discuss to Social Safety. They are saying it’s an IRS downside the IRS has to repair, and I’ve talked to the best folks I can discuss to.”
Different useless taxpayers are indignant too
Whereas it’s unclear simply how prevalent this downside is throughout the IRS, 13 Investigates has decided Bobby is much from alone.
Earlier this 12 months, two Kansas residents reported they may not entry stimulus checks or file tax returns as a result of they’re additionally thought-about useless by the IRS.
Veteran Franklin Jackson mentioned the IRS owed him greater than $4,000 as a result of an company consultant instructed him “someone hit the unsuitable key,” triggering a 2-year battle as Jackson tried to persuade the IRS that he’s not really useless. “It’s exhausting to talk to an actual, reside human being,” the 52-year-old instructed NBC affiliate KSNT. And after that information report, Kansas resident Tyson Vrbas contacted the TV station to say the identical factor has been occurring to him.
Shakira Evans additionally battled the IRS for years, attempting to gather her tax refunds after the IRS labeled her as deceased.
“Each time I contact the IRS, they inform me to attend. Look ahead to what? How lengthy will it take to enter their system and alter a easy error?” she requested throughout a 2019 interview with the PhillyVoice. “My kids and I are struggling by the hands of the IRS. Somebody simply must do their job and repair this! How rather more do they want?”
Pat Lowman can relate to these tales. The retired English instructor from central Pennsylvania was declared useless by the IRS, and he or she thought she had the issue resolved in 2019. However final 12 months when she tried to file her tax return, the IRS notified her that it had positioned a lock on her Social Safety quantity as a result of “IRS data present that it belongs to a deceased particular person.”
“I’ve been very annoyed, irritated, indignant,” Lowman instructed The (Allentown) Morning Name. “I really feel like I’ve carried out all that I may presumably do.”
Taxpayers in Tennessee, New York, Utah and different states have reported the identical factor occurring to them, too. They have been all left for useless by the IRS, even after attempting to show they’re very a lot alive .
“We shouldn’t need to take care of a system that requires over two years to show that you just’re alive. That’s frankly simply unacceptable,” Ebook instructed 13News. The regulation professor mentioned the IRS has struggled for years to offer ample customer support—and the COVID-19 pandemic has made issues even worse.
“Even earlier than the pandemic, the IRS had a problem in efficiently speaking with taxpayers. So you might have an ideal storm of circumstances coming collectively now the place the IRS is actually having a tough time assembly fundamental requirements of service. We deserve higher as a society and as residents from our authorities.”
The IRS response
13 Investigates contacted the IRS to ask questions concerning the delay in resolving Bobby’s case. Company spokesman Luis Garcia responded “…federal regulation and IRS disclosure rules don’t permit me to touch upon the standing of any tax matter of a taxpayer.” He did, nevertheless, ask for Bobby’s contact data and supplied to assist discover a resolution as rapidly as attainable.
Two weeks later, Bobby says he’s nonetheless thought-about useless with the IRS, and nobody from the company has even reached out to contact him.
“There’s received to be someone who can repair this,” Bobby mentioned. “I perceive errors might be made. I do. However the situation is errors might be fastened. It shouldn’t be this tough.”
“I’m not completely shocked that it will be exhausting for folks to un-do this designation, however I might suppose the IRS must have a solution to repair it,” mentioned Keith Fogg, who directs the Harvard Legislation Faculty tax clinic. He echoed considerations that COVID-19 has severely lowered the IRS’s potential to help taxpayers who need assistance. “The pandemic actually set the IRS again they usually’re struggling proper now. I’m commonly attempting to get details about my purchasers from the IRS, and I used to have the ability to do it in a number of days. Now it takes a number of months.”
Fogg mentioned taxpayers who can’t resolve their ongoing points with the IRS can file authorized motion in an try and pressure the company to take motion and pay cash that’s owed. However he suggested annoyed taxpayers to first contact the IRS Taxpayer Advocate for assist. The Taxpayer Advocate is an unbiased company throughout the IRS charged with advocating for and aiding taxpayers with complicated issues that they can’t in any other case get resolved with the IRS.
“That’s the a part of the IRS designed to repair these sorts of issues. That’s the place I’d counsel folks go,” he mentioned, acknowledging the Taxpayer Advocate has additionally been impacted by the pandemic.
Each Bobby and 13News have repeatedly tried to succeed in the Taxpayer Advocate. Bobby says the workplace has not offered him with any help. The Taxpayer Advocate’s workplace has not responded to 13News both.