The Investigators

Mar 31, 2014 2:20 PM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham

N4T Investigators: Tucson man's income tax refund re-routed

The one saving grace of tax season, is looking forward to a refund. So how would you feel if your refund was suddenly re-routed back to the government?

The News 4 Tucson Investigators were contacted by a man who got an envelope from the Feds. Instead of finding his expected refund inside, he found a letter telling him that that his refund had been intercepted to pay a decades-old debt. But, he says no one at the government will tell him exactly how or why he owes them money.

Mark Higgins suffered a spinal injury when a building he was working on collapsed.

That accident happened way back in 1986. He spent four months in the hospital, and began receiving Social Security Disability Income, also known as SSDI. The payments were about $600.00 a month.

By the end of 1987, Higgins was able to get a job, and the government payments stopped. But now, so many years later, the government insists that Higgins actually received SSDI for three more years, until 1990.

"I have no such knowledge of that. And, I've not been shown any evidence of that. So I'm just not sure what to do at this point," Higgins says.

Now, the very safety net that was supposed to protect and help Higgins, has him tangled in knots to the tune of more than $6,000 the Feds claim he owes.

"I've not seen any detailed information about how the debt was accumulated. Just some kind of general statement that I was overpaid this amount of money, and they want it back, essentially," Higgins says.

The IRS used a provision in the law to intercept his 2013 tax refund, about $700.00 worth.

"Disappointed, it took me completely by surprise. And, until I started making phone calls, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. The information I had as to why my tax refund was withheld was just really scant," Higgins says.

Higgins has reached out to Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick for help. Her staff did some checking, and essentially told him there was nothing they could do.

"It's one of those things that just sort of sets you back in your seat," Higgins says.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators also contacted Congresswoman Kirkpatrick's office about the re-routed refund. Her Communications Director sent the following statement:

"Every day, our office helps people with social security, veterans' benefits or other federal issues. And if they are unsatisfied with an answer they've received from a federal agency, we are committed to helping them determine next steps. Some cases are resolved quickly and others are more complex and take time. We can't guarantee a particular outcome, but helping our constituents solve problems is always the goal."

We'll keep you posted on what happens with this case.

If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to check out, email us, at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

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