BRADENTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) introduced bipartisan legislation last week to prevent the federal government from targeting taxpayers for debts that had been incurred by their relatives.
Buchanan’s bill, “The Stop Punishing Innocent Taxpayers Act” (H.R. 4491), permanently restores a 10-year statute of limitations on old debts, thus preventing the IRS from seizing tax refunds of taxpayers for debts incurred by their parents or relatives.
Buchanan is Florida’s only member of the House Ways & Means Committee, which is the body that has jurisdiction over the IRS.
The Washington Post and Associated Press recently revealed that federal tax refunds are being seized by the IRS because family members may have received overpayments in Social Security benefits as far back as 50 years ago.
The Social Security Administration has thus far targeted 400,000 taxpayers who they claim collectively owe $714 million in old debt.
Buchanan urged the U.S. House to immediately take up his legislation, which has 20 bipartisan co-sponsors.
“This is a simple matter of fairness,” Buchanan said. “Taxpayers should not be punished because the government miscalculated the federal benefits for their parents.”
Buchanan said that even though government officials have promised to stop confiscating refunds based on old debts, legislation was necessary to guarantee it never happens again.
He also noted that the government’s seizure could violate a person’s constitutional right to due process by not properly notifying individuals or providing proof of debt records they supposedly owe.
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