Dead To The IRS

Many people still have not received any stimulus payments from the IRS. If you haven’t received one, it might be due to the fact that the IRS considers you dead. That’s right, dead! And, perhaps you just haven’t discovered that fact yet. Maybe you haven’t had to renew your driver’s license, or you weren’t ever due a refund from the IRS.

How Many Declared Dead Are Walking Among Us

Fact is back 10 years ago in 2011, NPR reported that “an audit found about 1,000 people a month in the U.S. were marked deceased when they were very much alive.” Oh, that’s only 12,000 people per year. In the past 10 years they’ve reduced those numbers as the NPR article states, according to a representative in the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration, says “that number has gone down. It’s now around 500 people a month.” If that’s correct, that’s only 6,000 people a year who are declared dead but are very much among the living. Of course, as the article states, “But for those 500 people, it’s still a big impact on their lives, so we’d like to see the number even lower.” Most of those declared dead are Social Security clients and are likely to be retired and over the age of 60, the article states.

Not everyone who ends up on the list of the dead (aka the DMF or dead master file) is over 60. That certainly wasn’t the case for Adam Ronning who was declared dead by the SSA at the tender age of 4-years-old, but who was and still is very much alive. The young man who was 33-years old in 2017 was still fighting with the IRS not only for his life but for years of tax refunds. They always accepted his tax returns but would not pay his refunds because they said he was dead!

How The Living End Up Among The Dead

According to the Office of the Inspector General, “90 percent of the time, the cascade of misinformation starts with an input error by Social Security staff — a regular mistake on a regular office day that just happens to kill a person off, at least on paper.” In other words, it’s human error. Yet it is so very difficult for the declared dead human to get a human to repair the mistake.

One woman, Judy Rivers, found out she was dead when she tried to open a bank account back in 2010. According to the article at she had been dead since 2008. She wondered why she was never accepted when she applied for jobs and tried to rent an apartment. These are the troubles one runs into when no one can verify the information you provide. Rivers fought for five years and eventually ended up in front of a Senate panel telling her story. She states,
“You literally become a cyber-ghost as of that moment [you’re listed],” she said. “It spreads through the financial system. It permeates down to the driver’s license bureau, all databases through which any transaction is made, medical insurance companies — the information keeps spreading exponentially. It’s like a propagating hydra — its tentacles just keep going out further and further.”

$1.4 Billion In Relief Sent To The Dead

Meanwhile, the IRS has sent some $1.4 billion in relief checks to 60,000 dead people. I mean really dead, not just mistakenly listed as dead. So, if you have not received any stimulus checks, you might want to find out if your name is on the Dead Master File. You just might find out that you are dead to the IRS! Or, you might know you just haven’t filed your tax returns in years! If that’s the case, give us a call.

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