NJ woman can’t get tax refund because IRS says she’s dead

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (PIX11) — New Jersey resident Jeanette Carpenter is very much alive, but the IRS disagrees. She’s been awaiting an update for weeks after refiling her taxes time and again.

When Carpenter filed her 2020 taxes, her accountant received an unusual notice back. “My Social Security number belongs to a deceased person,” Carpenter said. “I asked them if they were getting me confused with my husband who passed away in 2009, and they said no.”

Carpenter’s accountant refiled twice more and got the same response. So, Carpenter went to her local IRS office and refiled again in person and on paper. “What baffles me is I work for the government,” she said.

Carpenter said she was told that everything looked good, and that she would have her return in six to 12 weeks. However, she’s still waiting. She said it’s never been an issue when she’s the one who has owed money. “I owed $1,300 in 2018,” she said. “I put it in my account, woke up two days later and the IRS took the $1,300 that was owed to them.”

In April, Carpenter tried her luck with the Social Security Administration and received an official letter stating that she is alive. Weeks later, she received a letter from the IRS saying her taxes couldn’t be processed because she was dead. Carpenter said that an IRS employee has told her over the phone that her Social Security number was marked in 2010 as belonging to a deceased person and that the system was just catching up.

Three weeks ago, she refiled her return again in person. She said an employee promised to overnight it to the government. That was the last she heard. Carpenter said she needs the money to catch up on medical bills from major surgery that left her out of work for four months in 2020.

“There’s nothing. I can’t get through to them. I’m on a long hold and then they hang up. I haven’t gotten any of my stimulus checks,” Carpenter said. “I can’t file my 2021 [taxes] until I see what they are going to do with the 2020 [taxes]. But I’m alive, in living color.”

The Social Security Administration but did return a request for comment from NEWS10’s sister station in New York. The IRS said that federal employees cannot disclose tax return information.