Nebraska veteran falsely declared dead by IRS goes through red tape nightmare

A Nebraska couple has been waving a red flag at the federal government for years.
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT) - A Nebraska couple has been waving a red flag at the federal government for years. They’ve been trying to prove an error has placed one of them on a list where nobody wants to see their name.

Trying to prove he’s not dead has become a life goal for Merlyn Cavner Jr.

“I’m going to be 61 years old in a few days and I’m afraid I’m going to die before I get alive to die again.”

Each one is a veteran. When Merlyn Lee Cavner died seven years ago, Merlyn Lee Cavner Jr. says he and his dad both ended up on a VA deceased list.

“She got a letter in the mail saying that she’s no longer eligible for benefits of the veteran because the veteran was deceased, which is me,” Merlyn Lee Cavner Jr. said.

The VA error has been corrected and Social Security sent a letter to Merlyn Jr. Last year that reads our records incorrectly show him deceased but found he is alive.

However, it appears the IRS didn’t get the memo.

“They’re saying we got to go to the Social Security Administration to take us off the death master list before they’ll deal with this. But we’ve already done that.”

The couple’s tax filing has been rejected because of a social security number that belongs to a deceased individual.

“If I could walk him into the IRS and say alright this is a very warm, breathing person that I’ve been married to and you need to bring him back,” Traci Cavner said.

While trying to remove his name from any dead list, Merlyn still has a lot of living to do. He and his wife would like to travel, but because of paperwork red tape, they have a fear of flying.

The Cavners worry a records error with the IRS may travel to the TSA.

“I’m afraid they’re going to see that I’m dead and they’re going to think I’m claiming to be somebody I’m not, and then I’ll be held.”

The IRS won’t comment on a specific case and suggests Merlyn contact the taxpayer advocate service.

“My daughter called 18 times in one day and could not get through,” Traci said.

Instead of another complaint, Merlyn Lee Cavner Jr wants the IRS to take his pulse.

Three weeks ago Merlyn Cavner contacted the office of Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse asking to help him get off the IRS deceased list. No word yet on the status of the complaint. Our messages to the senator’s staff have not been answered.

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