News - McHenry County

One of many: McHenry man, 95, still has not received tax refund seven months later

E-file submitted seven months ago this week, verified ID on video chat in July

Amber Basara, left, has been filing income tax returns for her grandfather-in-law, Daniel Basara, 95, since 2017. As of Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, it had been seven months with no refund in sight.

Every year, Daniel Basara, of McHenry, files his federal income tax return. Every year for the past several years, he anticipates a tax refund of around $6,000.

His granddaughter-in-law, Amber Basara, began preparing his IRS returns on his behalf in 2017. This year, she e-filed the return, expecting a faster refund. Now, seven months later, Basara, 95, is still waiting.

It is not the first time for a long return delay. Last year, Amber filed a paper return on his behalf and Daniel didn’t get his tax refund for six months.

First, he was told “it was the pandemic” holding up his money, Daniel Basara said. “Now, they are playing ping pong balls with me,” he said.

The IRS has reported issues with processing refunds since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The agency had a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns as of late May, an increase of 1.3 million over the same time last year, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins said in a June report to Congress.

Collins’ report also noted an “eight-month backlog in processing taxpayer correspondence and extraordinary difficulty reaching the IRS by phone.”

While the federal agency won’t comment on an individual filer’s status, the agency’s website says there are instances where returns may be delayed, including when a return “needs further review in general” or “is affected by identity theft or fraud.”

The 2021 return was accepted and sent on Feb. 11, Amber said. Since then, they have sent documentation and even had a video chat with the IRS to confirm Daniel’s identity.

Hoping to find help, Amber reached out to U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood’s office. Daniel submitted a privacy release form, allowing Amber to talk to staffers there for help. An inquiry to the IRS was submitted by the congresswoman’s office on Aug. 24, according to an email from Underwood’s office.

There had not been further communication until Tuesday, Amber said, when Daniel received a call from Underwood’s office, and later an email. That email, provided to the Northwest Herald, stated that the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Services, which her office reached out to on Daniel’s behalf, needs additional documents to move forward.

Both of the requested documents had already been provided to the IRS, Amber said.

A spokesperson for Underwood’s office declined to comment on Basara’s individual case but recommended constituents who are still waiting on their federal tax returns, reach out to the office. They touted their work helping constituents, saying they’ve helped residents in the 14th congressional district receive more than $2,260,000 from the IRS.

Neither Amber or Daniel Basara can understand the delay. The refund amount has been consistent for several years. Daniel thinks he filed his first tax return at age 19 or 20, right after he left the U.S. Navy.

In fact, most of his career was working for the U.S. government, he said.

“I worked in the torpedo plant for 23 years, as an inspector for above and underwater weapons,” he said.

But he took disability in 1972, following back surgery, Daniel said. And after a fall in early May, he moved into nursing care for nearly a month. His heart is only working at about 25%, he said.

“Any day I could drop dead. The stress the (expletive) government has put me through … it is too long,” Daniel said.

Typically, his tax return goes into savings to pay property taxes, Amber said. “He has enough in savings, but that is not the point. If we need something else, … that is a cushion, not to pay bills,” she said.

She checked the IRS website on Tuesday to see if there were any changes. “IRS shows still processing,” Amber said.