Sunday, February 17, 2008

Our Government At Work: Hey Lady, You're Dead! Deal With It!

Imagine getting this letter after your bank closed your credit card account and attached a note of sympathy: “Please accept our condolences on the death of Laura Todd. We understand it's a difficult time for you.” Well, guess what? Laura's not dead! She says that an 8-year-old typo is affecting everything from her credit to her tax return. "I don't think people realize how difficult it is to be dead when you're not,” she said. She said being dead off and on has made everyday life a hassle.

She said her problems started when someone in Florida died and her Social Security number was accidentally typed in. Todd said she thought the problem had been straightened out, but when she went to refinance her house in 2002, “SunTrust called and said, ‘Your credit report says you're dead.’" She straightened that incident out, but in 2006 the Internal Revenue Service refused to process her return. Don't we all wish that could happen to us?

"The IRS says I’m dead. Everybody says I'm dead,” she said. She said the last straw came recently when the IRS once again refused to let her file her taxes electronically because she's dead. She said that at one point it was funny, but now it’s getting old. “I'm tired. I've been fighting this for eight years, and it never ends,” she said. “I'm very much alive, and would like to live out my life in peace without having this problem." Todd said she'll try to file her tax return again and again and again and see if the problem has really been fixed.

The IRS said it would research the problem (and how many times have we heard the IRS say they'd fix something?) and try to get it straightened out. Social Security said it has updated its computers and that the fix should also fix the problems with her credit reports but their MIS department is a little busy trying to shoot a defunct satellite out of space at this time. Ah, our wonderful government body and the work they do. The real question in this story is this: If she actually dies, could she be declared dead? Hmmmm.