There are crimes, and there are tax crimes. Murder and rape stir primitive urges of revenge and retribution. Scamming old folks makes you want to get out the tar and feathers.
Tax crimes, not so much. Sure, you realize why they jail people for tax evasion – to make an example of them. But you don’t usually see a tax cheat having to be escorted through an angry mob of vengeful victims. Screwing the tax man just doesn’t inspire fear, hatred and contempt.
Our son had a really big heart and he loved people,” remembers Terri Tresise. Her 18-year-old son Tyler died unexpectedly last January. It was a blow to his entire family. About a month and a half later, Tresise got another shock. When she tried to file her tax returns electronically, the IRS told her someone had already claimed her son as a dependent.
Yes, there are crooks who specialize in harvesting social security numbers from the recently-dead and filing phony tax returns claiming refunds for them. Then when their survivors file the real final tax returns, they get caught up in a morass of IRS paperwork to get it straightened out. It takes a real lowlife to file a scam tax return for someone else’s dead child.
So what kind of evil organization would provide the dead kids’ Social Security numbers to these scammers?
Whoever falsely claimed Tyler, likely got his information from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. It’s an online site, updated weekly and available to the public, that lists the names and social security numbers of people who've died.
So it’s the government. Now if you, I or the bank put people’s tax information out to the public like that, we’d face fines and jail. Meanwhile, the Feds do it as a matter of policy.