TN 8 (05-95)

GN 05010.134 SSA Refunds Too Much Tax

A. Background

IRC's time limitations on the assessment and collection of taxes do not apply in most foreign cases. Tax liability is assessed within 3 years of the date the tax return is filed for the year in question (e.g., the year in which the excess tax refund was paid), or if no tax return was filed, at any time. Collection must begin within 6 years after the tax assessment. However, the 6-year limit is suspended if taxpayer is outside the U.S..

B. Policy

SSA recovers an excess tax refund only from the beneficiary to whom it was paid. It is not recovered from other benefits to which the beneficiary is entitled on another account.

The payment status of the beneficiary due the refund determines how it is recovered. Since excess tax refunds are not title II overpayments,these overpayment procedures do not apply.

Although beneficiaries are not given an option of repayment by partial withholding, a request for partial withholding is approved if requested and repayment has not been completed.

In recovering an excess refund, it is generally immaterial if the refund was paid in a prior year.

C. Procedure

1. Beneficiary in Current Pay

  1. Advise the beneficiary of the:

    • Tax amount refunded;

    • Amount which should have been refunded;

    • Amount and reason for the excess refund; and

    • Excess refund will be withheld from his current benefit(s).

      Do not include the due process notice or SSA appeal language since it is an IRS matter and not subject to these SSA processes.

  2. Recover the excess refund amount as follows:

    • Withhold (manually until the system is revised to handle these cases) the excess refund amount from the current monthly benefits.

      Compute the tax due on the benefit from which the refund is recovered before withholding the excess tax refund.

    • Credit the amount withheld to recover the excess refund to PHUS as a tax withheld. (ETD is date the excess refund was paid.)

      Make this PHUS annotation after the full amount has been recovered or, if recovery extends over more than 1 calendar year,before the annual statement for each year is prepared. Limit the annotation to the amount recovered in the year for which the statement is due.

    • Change the MBR alien tax field only to the extent, if any, it was changed by the excess tax refund (see D.1.).

      If payment stops before the repayment is complete, annotate the MBR, if appropriate, to show the repayment and take action as explained in b. and c.

2. Beneficiary in Nonpay Status (Not Terminated)

Send the beneficiary a notice as explained in 1.; however, revise it to ask him to repay the excess refund.

Diary the case for 90 days.

a. Beneficiary Repays the Excess Refund

Increase the tax amount shown on PHUS by the amount repaid (ETD is the date the excess refund was paid).

Change the MBR alien tax field to the extent,if any, it was changed by the excess refund.

See b. below for action on the portion not repaid if the beneficiary repays only part of the excess refund and refuses to repay the remainder.

b. Beneficiary Does Not Repay the Excess Refund

Post the unpaid amount to the MBR as an unpaid tax liability.

3. Beneficiary Terminated

a. Beneficiary is Deceased

Do not attempt to recover the excess tax refund. Do not post it to the MBR as an unpaid tax liability.

b. Beneficiary is Alive

Send a notice as explained in 2. above asking him to repay the excess refund.

Diary the case for 90 days.

Do not take any further action to recover the excess refund if, upon diary expiration, the beneficiary has not repaid the excess refund.

Post the excess tax refund to the MBR if the beneficiary was entitled as an HA, a spouse or surviving spouse and could be reentitled to benefits at a later time.


1. Beneficiary in Current Pay

In July 1995, SSA is advised that A (a nonresident alien) left France and had become a resident of Italy on March 20, 1995. Since A was a resident of a tax treaty country (Italy), action was taken to change his AWSC to “2” effective March 1995, stop the tax withholding and refund the taxes incorrectly withheld for March 1995 through June 1995 ($25.50 a month).

In September 1995, SSA notes that, due to a processing error, A's AWSC was changed effective February 1995 and he was issued a tax refund of $127.50, rather than $102.00.

A is advised of the excess tax refund as follows:

In August 1995, we sent you a check for $127.50. This was a refund of the Federal income taxes we withheld from your Social Security benefits for February 1995 through June 1995. However,since you were not a resident of the United States or a country with which the United States has a tax treaty prohibiting the taxation of Social Security benefits when you were paid the February 1995 benefit, we should not have