TYLER, Tex. (CBS Houston) – Janis Balusek received significantly less than what she expected in her tax return because of a mistake the government made in 1975.
“Actually $1,035.20 lower than what I expected,” Balusek told KLTV.
KLTV reports that Balusek had no idea why she would receive such a low sum. She had to make calls to her accountants, the Treasury Department, and the Social Security Administration just to get an answer.
“My father passed away when I was 11, so my mother received social security payments,” Balusek told the station. “What she did with the money to help us do whatever … that’s her business.”
The government said they paid her family too much money back then and are now trying to make up for it by taking it out of her tax return.
“They’re claiming that I or she or somebody … I don’t know. That’s the whole issue. I don’t know who received the money,” Balusek explained to KLTV.
Local attorney Joe Thigpen says this is becoming more common across the country.
“There’s a lawsuit filed in Virginia on the very issue,” he told KLTV. “They are going back years and years and years trying to collect these over payments, but there’s no real authority for the proposition that you can collect from the child an overpayment to the parent.”
Thigpen went on to tell the station that “people are entitled to be notified of the debt, an explanation of the debt, and how it was arrived at before they have to pay it back.”
Balusek said she never received any notice or explanation. The Social Security Administration says they did mail a notice but to an address Balusek hasn’t lived at in decades.
“What I need now is proof that they should actually keep that money,” Balusek said. “Show me something … a signed check or something to say somebody in that family received the money.”
The Social Security Administration said they have asked the Treasury Department to stop collecting debts that are 10 years old or older.
If someone believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment they can request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment by contacting the Social Security via their website.