PROGRAMMING NOTE: Over the next two weeks, I’ll be re-posting popular blog posts from the past. New material will resume on Monday, January 4th.
In 2012 and 2013, I chronicled one taxpayer’s identity theft nightmare as she and I tried to get the IRS to resolve her case. That finally happened … 850 days after it started.
This is Part 2 of the series. You can find all 18 parts here.
As this part was written, Wendy and I were in the beginning stages of dealing with this problem. We had no idea at the time that it would take another year for the IRS to resolve the case.
Originally published August 8, 2012
This is the story of Wendy Boka’s saga with identity theft and the IRS. Her husband Brian died in January 2010 and someone stole his identity and filed a fraudulent tax return in his name. We’re still trying to get the IRS to sort this mess out — all these months later.
The names are real and are used with Wendy’s permission.
Wendy and Brian were native Iowans. Wendy moved to Texas after Brian died. Wendy maintains a blog, http://www.wendyrebuilding.blogspot.com/, where she talks about the struggles of being a young widow. As time allows, Wendy will be blogging her thoughts on the identity theft saga as well.
(Find Part 1 of the series here.)
When the e-file for Brian and Wendy’s 2010 tax return rejected, I assumed I had done something wrong, or that the software had done something wrong.
The printout of the rejection said Brian’s Social Security Number had already been used on a previously filed 2010 tax return. I once had an e-file reject because, instead of typing in the person’s Social Security Number, I entered an employer identification number from a W-2 instead. That was embarrassing, but easy enough to fix.
After I received the rejection notice, I double- and triple-checked Brian’s SSN. It was entered correctly.
So I assumed my software messed something up, and I submitted the e-file again. And again it rejected.
I called Wendy and told her what was going on. I asked her to call the IRS and see if they could tell her anything.
They couldn’t. In fact, the person she talked to just told her, brusquely, that she’d have to file the return on paper if we couldn’t get the e-file to go through.
So we filed on paper. This was mid-April, right before the filing deadline.
Wendy was owed a refund from this IRS, but the refund never came. In fact, no correspondence came from the IRS at all.
By August, I decided it was time to rattle the IRS’s cage. I had Wendy sign a power of attorney form and I called the IRS.
I was informed that in order for them to process the return, they would need a special form filled out (Form 14039) and a copy of Brian’s death certificate.
I don’t know why they didn’t tell us they needed these things at some point in the four months between when we filed the return and when I called.
I helped Wendy fill out the Form 14039, and she had to open up painful memories by finding Brian’s death certificate. By this time, Wendy had sold her and Brian’s house in Iowa and moved to Texas to try to put her life back together. This sort of thing was the last thing she needed.
But we sent the paperwork to the IRS, and then waited for a response.
Nothing at all from the IRS.
Then the ominous-sounding IRS notices started coming.
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
[…] Jason Dinesen, From the Archives: Taxpayer Identity Theft, Part 2 […]