Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Social Security Halts Practice of Garnishing Tax Returns to Recover Parents’ Overpayments

On Monday, the Social Security Administration announced that it will no longer intercept tax returns to recover overpayments that are more than 10 years old. The decision was made following an article that was published last week in the Washington Post reporting that the Social Security Administration was garnishing individuals’ tax returns to recover alleged overpayments, in many instances belonging not to the individuals, but their parents.

In some cases, the overpayments were decades old, and the Social Security Administration provided little or no notice of the overpayment before seizing the returns. According to the Post, Carolyn Colvin, the acting Social Security commissioner, stated that the agency would conduct a legal review of the practice, so it remains unclear whether the practice will resume in the future. She also said that people who feel they were incorrectly charged with an overpayment “should contact the agency and ‘seek options to resolve the overpayment.’”

Legal Aid applauds both the Post for reporting on this practice and the Social Security Administration for its swift response. Legal Aid has handled matters for several clients who have experienced garnishment of their tax returns and was exploring ways to address this issue in a systemic way.

Print Friendly