BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (KMSP) - Thirty-three-year-old Adam Ronning is a busy husband, father and panel technician who, like many Minnesotans, has taxes withheld from his bi-weekly paycheck.
“They’ve never been able to prove that I’m dead,” he told FOX 9 Sunday, “It’s always me proving that I’m still here.”
But the way the IRS sees it, Ronning has been dead for 29 years.
The error is one Ronning’s mother fought to correct when her son was four.
“They blamed a computer glitch but it has been ‘glitching’ ever since,” Linda Picard-Millette said.
It was May 1987 when she got a letter informing her she could no longer receive child support after she re-married because little Ronning somehow was declared deceased.
“I called up Social Security and said, ‘what do you mean he’s dead?!’” Picard-Millete recounted, “they apologized said they would issue a certificate of resurrection, but they wouldn’t give me a copy, and would take care of things.”
Yet, after Ronning filed his 2009 returns he discovered the problem had resurrected instead.
“[That’s] when the IRS gave me half of my refund and explained to me the reason I couldn't get my full refund is because I was deceased,” he said referring to the 2009 notification.
“The only finger they’ll lift is the finger to point at other people,” he shook his head.
Forced to pick up where his mother left off Ronning has been sent on an endless cycle between the IRS and social security.
“I've spent hours on the phone with the IRS, on hold, and waiting for someone, trying to speak to supervisors but they always point the finger at social security,” he sighed, “Social Security says that I'm fine. I've had three new social security cards now… I wouldn't get a new card if I wasn't around.”
The Department of Treasury even sent Ronning a letter that acknowledges he is indeed alive.
Nevertheless, over the last five years the father of two - with another one the way - says things have actually gotten worse.
“Instead of getting half my refund now I get none of it,” Ronning said of why he now suspects the IRS owes him big.
“It’s probably $20,000, in that neighborhood,” he nodded, “if the IRS owes you money they do nothing to help you, but if you owe the IRS money, they will hunt you down.”
Ronning attempted to file his taxes through H&R block this year when the cycle continued.
“They said 'we will not file your taxes for you. We can’t. You’re dead,'” he said. “I just kind of broke. I couldn’t take it anymore…it’s terrible.”
“It has made it very difficult for him,” Ronning’s mother said. “If you Google him on the computer he’s dead."
The false declaration has at one point left Ronning unable to open a bank account or receive a car loan.
As he continues to endure the difficulties the ordeal creates, Ronning would like to see the IRS implement a system that helps people in his situation and would like reconciliation.
Ronning tells FOX 9 he will continue paying his taxes.
“I’d rather the fault be on them instead of on me,” he said.