No, really, I’m alive. IRS declares man dead

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

dead. Social Security Master Death File, IRS, wrongfully declared deadPicture this: you are owed a refund on your taxes. Time passes as you patiently wait for that magical moment when there is extra money in your checking account. Four or five months go by without any word so you finally give in and make that dreaded call to the IRS. You wait on hold for, what feels like, an eternity. (They could use some better hold music.) You finally get in touch with a real person only to be told that they are unable to issue a refund to you because you’re dead … Wait, what?

The most recent account of this belongs to a man from Minnesota. Adam Ronning has been fighting for nearly thirty years to prove that he is, in fact, alive. I know this sounds crazy, but according to a recent study by 60 Minutes, around 9,000 Americans are falsely declared dead each year. The so called “computer glitch” that is affecting Ronning happened when he was four years old. Since then, the IRS has had no problem accepting tax payments from him but won’t issue his refunds. He is finally able to get back his $20,000 after his state Senator intervened on his behalf to get his deceased status reversed.

If this unfortunate scenario becomes your next nightmare, it is suggested that you keep trying to get it resolved. There are several resources that you can try including the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, the Social Security Administration, and, if you need to, call your state Congressmen. There is also a website dedicated to helping people get off of the Social Security Death Master File called “Cancel These Funerals.” When taking any of these routes, be sure to bring a significant amount of identification and prepare for a long, nonsensical fight to prove that you are indeed not dead.

Joanna M. Yergler, CPA