Woman files tax return, but instead of getting a refund she finds out she’s ‘dead’

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SPARTA, Mich. (April 28, 2015) -- A 25-year-old Michigan woman was surprised to learn she died in 2014 after she attempted to file her tax refund earlier this year.

Sarah Jewell, 25, filed her tax return in February. However, instead of a refund, the IRS sent her a letter informing her she died.

"The letter said that my Social Security number was coming up that I was deceased,” Jewell told WXMI.

The IRS instructed her to contact her local Social Security office if there was an error.

“I’m like, ‘I’m alive!,'" she told the staff at her local office.

Apparently, in November, someone filed paperwork stating she was deceased. Three months after visiting her local office, her number has not been restored and she has not received her tax refund.

Her problems don't end there, unfortunately.

“I need to renew my driver’s license, and apparently it has me as deceased,” she said.

One of her credit cards was canceled and her job benefits have also been flagged. Now, her future as a licensed pharmacy technician is endangered.

“Everyone has to be licensed in the state of Michigan by the end of June," Jewell said. "If I don’t get this taken care of soon, I will be essentially out of a job.”

WXMI contacted the IRS, the Secretary of State's office in Lansing, Michigan. Deputy Regional Communications Director Doug Nguyen said this is very rare. Out of nearly 3 million deaths each year, 9,000 living Americans are misreported as dead to the Social Security Administration. That's .35 percent.

Jewell and WXMI are working to help bring Sarah "back to life" and get the issue resolved as soon as possible.

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