IRS Issues Soc. Sec. Nos. Warning

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Thursday November 16 2:22 PM ET IRS Issues Soc. Sec. Nos. Warning

By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Millions of Americans may have to dig out their marriage certificates after the IRS sent out letters warning women that the married names on their tax returns do not match up with their Social Security numbers.

Most of the cases involve women who took their husbands' names when they got married. For various reasons, their new names were entered incorrectly into the Social Security system or weren't entered at all.

The IRS said that unless the taxpayers straighten out the problem with the Social Security Administration, when they file their tax returns in the spring they could be denied the earned income tax credit or the personal exemption a spouse gets when a couple files jointly.

``You may have your refund delayed,'' added John M. Dalrymple, an Internal Revenue Service (news - web sites) commissioner in the wage and investment division, ``or you may have to have a lengthy conversation with us.''

In some cases, couples who have been married for decades are returning to Social Security offices with their marriage certificates and other documentation.

The Social Security Administration said the documents can be mailed in, but they have to be originals, not copies.

Fred Borsello, an engineer at a Long Island manufacturing company who received a letter dated Oct. 30, said he and others fear the originals might be lost by the same bureaucrats he holds responsible for the mess.

``The only way to clear this up is for my wife to take a day off from work, go down to the Social Security office for the second time and get this taken care of,'' said Borsello, who insisted his wife contacted the Social Security Administration after their wedding more than 20 years ago and made the appropriate changes.

The letters went out to 2.4 million taxpayers filing joint tax returns.

``We sent out an information notice to people, saying that based on the records, your name and Social Security number do not match,'' Dalrymple said. ``They have to match, by law. You've got this time window to get this straightened out with the Social Security Administration.''

He said the move is part of an effort to reduce fraud.

``Congress passed the law to make sure that there were legitimate people making legitimate claims to offset tax liability or to claim refunds,'' Dalrymple said.

Social Security and IRS officials said there were various reasons for the discrepancies - including failure by taxpayers to inform the Social Security Administration of name changes, as well as failure by government bureaucrats to enter the correct information into their computers when it was originally provided.

Social Security spokesman John Clark said the cause could be as simple as a transposed number or some other typographical error.

With the increase in the ability of computers to cross-check names and numbers over the past two decades, discrepancies that once were buried deep in file cabinets can now be found with the click of a computer mouse.

Borsello said Wednesday that he was at work, talking with someone at the Social Security Administration about his plight, when a co-worker in an adjacent cubicle overheard his phone call and said his wife had gotten the same letter.

``Obviously, this must be a problem that is pretty widespread,'' Borsello said.

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On the Net: Social Security Administration: http://www.ssa.gov

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20001116/pl/irs_letters_2.html

-- Carl Jenkins (somewherepress@aol.com), November 16, 2000

Answers

2.4 million goofs?

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), November 16, 2000.

It musta been the squirrels :-

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), November 16, 2000.

Twenty years? People have been married twenty+ years -- and presumably filing 20+ tax returns over that time -- and the IRS is only just *now* telling them there's a discrepancy? Only now, in this funny year of the triple zeroes?

You're right. It's the squirrels.

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@nist.gov), November 17, 2000.


Must have punched the wrong hole!

My brother recently applied for Social Security. The SSA denied his application because they said he was an illegal alien! He was born here, has lived here all his life and is a war vet. He eventually got it fixed right, but it took him almost a year!

What a bunch of idiots! Your tax money at work!

-- K (infosurf@yahoo.com), November 17, 2000.


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