According to a recent Washington Post article, the Treasury Department has been seizing tax refunds or demanding payment from hundreds of thousands of Americans on some very old debts due to a single sentence in the 2008 farm bill that removed the 10-year statute of limitations on debt owed to the government. Since 2011, the Treasury has collected $424 million on these old accounts.
Social Security has been especially aggressive, targeting 400,000 taxpayers that it says collectively owe back $714 million in ancient overpayments. In many cases, the people who actually received the money are dead, so the agency goes after any children who may have indirectly benefited from the money, starting with the eldest, until the debt is paid. Per the article, some of the debts go back over 50 years and the responsible agencies have not been very helpful in substantiating the amounts owed or willing to take credit for reopening the cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy.
The only explanation the government provides for suddenly going after decades-old debts comes from Social Security spokeswoman Dorothy Clark: “We have an obligation to current and future Social Security beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.”
See the full article here.
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