Cosby man finally receives tax refund after IRS declares him dead


COSBY, Tenn. (WATE) — It has taken six months and a lot of time waiting on the telephone, but a Cosby man has finally received his Internal Revenue Service tax refund. Twice, the IRS delayed his tax refund because Social Security records showed his number belonged to a deceased person.

For the last 18 months, retired police officer Vern Dollhopf has received his monthly social security check with no problem; but when it came to the IRS, he received a notice last year, that he was deceased so, no refund was sent. It took a year to prove to the IRS that, yes, he is alive. Then, he had to go through the same process again this year.

Dollhopf is a patient man. However, over the last year and a half, his patience with the IRS has been tested to the limit. The year after his wife Sue of 48 years passed away in early 2018, he had no trouble with his 2019 tax refund check.

But last year and again this year, the IRS declined his refund that had been filed electronically. He never received his two stimulus checks from 2020. Instead, he was sent this letter by his tax preparer — it states the “primary social security number on the return has been locked because it belongs to a deceased person.”
Fed up, Vern was finally able to get through to the IRS and was given directions on what action to take.

Dollhopf says, “With my return, I sent in a letter stating that I was alive. And a copy of the refusal that they had sent me when I tried the electronic deposit. All of a sudden my stimulus check was deposited into my account. I called this number here and the appointment line. Told them I think I need to make an appointment to get this straightened out. The lady that answered said, I’ll check the records here and see what is going on.”

He says that once he got through to the appointment line number, within half an hour, the issue was corrected. “She said, ‘yep, back in 2018, I see where they marked you dead instead of your wife, and supposedly that has been corrected.’ She says, ‘yes, the last file I went through shows it has been corrected and I’ll be getting the check through the mail.'”

Apparently, to get your refund, you have to take the initiative, that’s what Bob Hazel did. With no word from the IRS about the five-month delay with his tax return, he turned to an 8-year-old phone book in his workshop where he found the IRS Business Speciality Line.

Bob Hazel of Anderson County says, “I actually got a person. It took a while. But I got a person and she told me what was going on. It took a while, but she did about 15 minutes of research to figure out what really happened.”

While the circumstance involved in the delay of Bob’s tax return is different from what Vern experienced, both had to take action into their own hands. The company he worked for had not sent in the necessary paperwork, as they had only got it a month ago and his account was frozen, but he was told it would be unfrozen once everything was settled and he would hear back from them in two or three weeks, which he did.

In Cosby, the ceiling in Dollhopf’s kitchen leaks, he’ll use the money from his long-awaited tax refund to make repairs.

If you need in-person help from an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, you’ll need to call to schedule an appointment. All assistance centers provide service by appointment only and getting through to the center will take time. The agency says it is swamped right now because of stimulus payments and continued COVID-19 challenges all causing a delay in live phone support and refunds.,

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