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IRS still having trouble figuring out who's dead, who's alive

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As the old saying goes, nothing is certain except death and taxes… and the occasional uncertainty at the IRS about who's dead and who's still alive.

A 94-year old Ohio man has fought with the IRS for nine months about whether he's alive or dead. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Siegfried Meinstein says he's alive, and his family has presented evidence to the IRS several times showing he's alive.

Photo Credit: AP The IRS doesn't take anything for granted. If you show up at the IRS in person and insist that you are alive, that may not be enough. Photo Credit: AP

The IRS isn't buying it and has sent back his tax returns, arguing that the Social Security Administration's records say he is no longer with us.

But the paper said Social Security actually believes Meinstein is alive, and the problem seems to only be with the IRS. That prompted the family to visit the IRS with Meinstein, who met with an IRS agent in the hopes that the IRS might be able to change something in the expensive yet clearly fallible computer system it's using.

They've had no luck so far. A little later, they got another letter in the mail that said, "Our records indicate that the person identified as the primary taxpayer… was deceased prior to the tax year shown on the tax form."

The IRS routinely mistakes the living for the dead, and it often takes years for it to clear up mistakes caused by typos or other bad information that finds its way into the government's database.

But in this case, the right hand of the IRS doesn't seem to know what the left hand is doing. The Columbus Dispatch says the IRS is cashing Meinstein's checks, even as it continues to argue he's dead.

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