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jw1214

Wrongfully Garnished Tax Refund/Wages

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I live in CA. Last year (2014), my tax return was garnished by the Mississippi Department of Human Services for unpaid child support. Funny thing is, I do not have a child and I do not live in Mississippi. Apparently, someone made a mistake somewhere down the line and someone's unpaid child support was reported under my SSN and name. (I found out that we have the same name). After about a month of phone calls, they finally sent me what they took from me. The following week, they garnished wages from one of my paychecks. After an angry phone call to their department, I was told that I was out of their system and that this would not happen again.

 

Last week, I applied for a car loan. I have great credit, so this shouldn't have been a problem to get. When I was denied I was shocked. I ordered a credit report and imagine my surprise when I see 7 unpaid child support payments on my history. This caused a poor credit rating. I called their office on Monday and the woman who answered was very nice, but told me that the file was still open. She said that she would immediately speak with her supervisor and get this handled. I called back today to get an update and was told that they couldn't find me in their system. After explaining my situation a couple more times, I was told to fax them a copy of my credit report. I was told to call back on Friday. So still nothing had been done at this point.

 

As if this isn't bad enough, when I checked on the status of this year's tax return I got a notification that it was going to be garnished to pay unpaid debts, such as child support. This is getting to be extremely disruptive and stressful on my life. I had plans to buy a car and a house this month, which I now cannot do. Money had been wrongfully taken from me and it appears that the MS Department of Human Services is making no real effort to correct their mistakes.

 

Do I have a case against anyone in this situation? I know it can be difficult to sue the government, but this is something that I feel needs to be done. Please advise if you can!

 

 

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Presumably you mean that you don't have a kid as far as you know ... that you don't live in MS isn't at all relevant.

 

I'd be shocked that phone calls remediated the situation to the extent it has (vs. as to the tax refund seizure or wage garnishment, a court order saying they have wrong person and needed to cough up the dough).  The fact that some staffer would do an about-face at any level on the basis of phone calls is amazing.  That you'd expect the renewed issue to be resolved within a week is amazing.

Even if this were occurring in CA, it isn't as though you can establish there's the legal equivalent of wilful disregard or purposely messing with you that'd get you past qualified immunity.  The fact that someone would do an about-face simply on your say-so and sent you some dough won't help you.  I presume you filed or will file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. 

 

Absent a court action on the tax refund garnishment (and it sounds like you've got no SPECIFIC info to indicate it's in response to a MS govt lien), it might behoove you to get info from this MS agency or the relevant MS family court on the person who actually DOES owe the dough so that you can establish mistaken identity.

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Presumably you mean that you don't have a kid as far as you know ... that you don't live in MS isn't at all relevant.

 

I don't have a child. it's not "as far as I know". It is not possible for me to have a child.

 

That you'd expect the renewed issue to be resolved within a week is amazing.

 

 It has been over a year that I have expected this to be resolved, so I think I have every right to assume it would have been resolved by now.

 

 Even if this were occurring in CA, it isn't as though you can establish there's the legal equivalent of wilful disregard or purposely messing with you that'd get you past qualified immunity.  The fact that someone would do an about-face simply on your say-so and sent you some dough won't help you.  I presume you filed or will file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. 

I have a letter from the dept. stating that they have refunded the money due to an error in their system that has been resolved. Since it hasn't, I would say that this is willful disregard. And I need proof in order to file a dispute with the credit reporting agency.

 

Absent a court action on the tax refund garnishment (and it sounds like you've got no SPECIFIC info to indicate it's in response to a MS govt lien), it might behoove you to get info from this MS agency or the relevant MS family court on the person who actually DOES owe the dough so that you can establish mistaken identity.

 

I do have specific info from both the IRS and MS dept. saying that the garnishment was from this person not paying their child support.  and I am sure you must know that any government agency cannot and will not release private information about any individual that is not me. The fact that I even got the other guy's name from them is astonishing (and an admitted mistake on their part). I have his address as well, but that is because it showed up on my credit history as MY address, even though it isn't.

 

This isn't some personal debt that I am trying to get out of paying. I do not have a child and have never had a child. I am being penalized for not paying child support on a child that I never had. All I need is legitimate answers on if I have a case or not, not someone refuting all of my statements.

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It is the child support agency in Mississippi that is responsible for this. The tax agencies just process the tax offset requests. It sounds like you have so far only dealt with this matter by phone. I suggest you write the child support agency and set forth the facts of the matter and request that the agency release the refund to you, remove the erroneous credit report entries, and take steps to ensure that this error not be repeated. In it, I'd detail the conversations you've had so far with their staff and note that so far you have not received a satisfactory response. It may be that the agency will fix the immediate problem again just based on the phone call, but you want to have a paper trail, too, to back up your efforts to resolve this. That may become important later. I suggest you also write the credit bureau and dispute the erroneous credit report entries. 

 

As for a lawsuit, most states as well as the federal government do provide for citizens to sue them in situations where the citizen has been harmed by the negligence of government employees acting within the scope of their duties. Failure to remedy this may well fall into a negligence action. But there are usually special rules that apply to sue the government, and you’d need to consult a Mississippi lawyer familiar with tort claims against the state (negligence is one type of tort claim) to find out what you might be able to, what it would cost you, and what you might realistically expect to win in such a lawsuit. 

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Now if you wanted to get really creative, you could familiarize yourself with the rules of the federal court in California. File, pro se, and serve a lawsuit against the state agencies, the respective heads of the agencies and anyone else who has signed correpsondence directed to you. You won't  prevail, but it will likely involve getting an attorneys from the agencies and/or state department of justice involved. May help get things resolved quicker. 

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