Action 9: IRS may be withholding some tax payers' refunds

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - You may still be waiting for your federal tax refund. If so, it may because the IRS is withholding it.
Kim Sells couldn't believe it when it happened to her. 
"I know if it's happened to me, it's happened to other people out there," she said.
Apparently, when she was a teenager, her parents owed the Social Security Administration $338. She said she never knew anything about it.  Now, 35 years later, SSA was telling IRS to withhold Sells's money to pay the debt.
"It's just them being bullies basically, because, 'Oh, we can do it because we can get away with it.  What are you going to do?  Ha ha ha,'" she said.
Lawyer Angelique Neal used to work for the IRS.  Now she's in private practice in Michigan, handling tax cases for private citizens.  She said if this happens to you, find out what agency says you owe money.  Then contact that one directly, not the IRS.  And make sure it tried to get in touch with you before it had your money frozen.
"If you haven't heard from an agency before and, now, all of a sudden, they're starting to take your money, there are procedures in place whereby they have to notify you of the debt," she said.
So Action 9 spoke with SSA for Sells.  It turned out, part of the problem was Sells's last name had changed.  It seemed like a clerical error and, about one week later, Sells had her refund.
Her advice:  "Don't make the wrong become a right.  If it's wrong, you know it's wrong, then find the avenue to fight it."
If you feel your refund's being wrongly withheld, call the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676), to find out what agency says you owe money.  Then, contact that agency directly and, again, make sure it tried to notify you before freezing your check.