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Sapulpa woman mistakenly considered 'deceased' by IRS struggles to get refunds

IRS SHUTDOWN CNN 010319
Posted at 2:39 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 19:32:48-04

SAPULPA, Okla. — You can understand the frustration; Taxes are taken out of every paycheck, but when it comes to getting your refund, or stimulus payments, the IRS says "not so fast, you're considered deceased."

Regina Bunch from Sapulpa knows that frustration first hand.

When her husband passed away in 2015, Bunch says it was difficult enough grieving, healing and moving on.

"I don't wish it on anyone,” she says.

What haunts her now six years later is the IRS thinks she's the one who's deceased.

"It does worry me, you have to fight with them to get your named marked undeceased, and here I'm very much alive," she says.

Apparently, Bunch's tax records got mixed up after her husband's death.

She says she's called and written letters trying to prove to the IRS she's a living, tax-paying worker.

"It takes forever, and ever, and they still don't get anything done," she says.

Taxes have been taken out of her paycheck like clockwork, Bunch says, but when she tried filing her 2019 tax return, and her 2020 tax return, time seemed to stand still. She was told she can't since she's listed as deceased.

"I sent them what they needed and I thought it would be taken care of in a week or so, it's not been taken care of and it's almost a year later."

All that time, Bunch says she's hasn't been able to get the thousands of dollars in refunds she's owed, and COVID-19 relief stimulus payments she's owed. All as parts of her home are falling apart.

So she contacted the 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers for help.

"The money means a lot to me, it's money I'm supposed to have, I can do things to my house, or live on," she says.

After contacting the IRS several times, it appears Bunch's situation is being resolved. We're told she's no longer considered deceased, but it could take about a month for her computer records at the IRS to be completely updated.

That's when she's been told to refile her past tax returns, to get the refunds and stimulus payments she's owed.

We're staying in touch to see when that happens.

The Problem Solvers have received similar complaints the last few months.

During the pandemic, many IRS representatives have been working from home, which causes delays and confusion in some cases, increasing hold times while calling the IRS.

However, local IRS offices are opening again, and the quickest way to get some problems resolved is by going to the IRS website to set up an appointment at a local office and meet face to face with a representative.

WATCH the full 2 News Problem Solvers report MONDAY at 6 a.m. on 2 News.

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