This is pretty fucking outrageous:
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.
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.
The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.
That law was passed when the Democrats controlled Congress. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
It’s difficult to count the number of things wrong here: supposed overpayments of parents being extracted from their children; debts older than good scotch suddenly being valid again; the lack of any real evidence that an actual overpayment happened; plus, who wants to bet that they are primarily targeting middle class and poor people who lack the resources to fight it? Grice is taking them to court, but most people can’t afford that and it’s debatable whether the cost of fighting it would be more than the debt. And for a lot of people, tax refunds — correction, the return money they loaned the government interest-free — is a critical part of their budget.
In discussing student loans, I described our federal government as the world’s biggest predatory lender. Well, now they’ve become the world’s biggest predatory collection agency. Almost everything they are doing here would be illegal if a private agency tried to do it. But the gang of thugs who run our empire won’t be bound by rules. Rules are for plebs, not for the state.