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Family Says They Cannot Get Deceased Husband's Stimulus Check Due To Overwhelmed IRS Call Centers

CAROL STREAM, Ill. (CBS) -- It's a tough battle, but a Carol Stream family is taking on the IRS. What's even harder is they can't even get the feds to pick up the phone.

CBS 2's Marie Saavedra explains they are not the only ones. Hundreds of calls are going unanswered.

"If I didn't have Kelly, I really don't know what I would do," said Florence Cook.

Cook is fighting laryngitis, so her daughter, Kelly Sheridan, shared the story of her mom versus the IRS. It starts with Cook's husband Ron, who they lost last fall. Before his passing he was owed a stimulus check.

"The only way to kick that loose would be to file the income tax statements, so we did that," said Sheridan.

Then in May, Cook got a letter from the IRS asking her to go online and verify her identity in one of four ways -- including a mobile phone number.

"At that point, the verification process online ground to a halt because my mom doesn't have a cell phone," Sheridan said.

The letter said in that case, they should call the number (800) 830-5084 -- which they did.

"We tried calling first thing in the morning, late, later at night during their posted hours, in between, nothing worked," Sheridan said.

Every time, the line got cut. They are at a loss with what to do next and know they can't be the only ones.

"There's got to be a lot of other seniors or other people who just don't have a cell phone," said Sheridan.

CBS 2 brought their issue directly to the IRS and did get a response, which is even rare for us. A spokesman blamed a decade of decreasing budgets, saying they're currently hiring staff for call centers and admitted there aren't enough people to man the phones. The IRS website says it's received over 145 million calls this year, four times more than average. The problem is there's not another option.

"There's got to be other ways," Sheridan said. "Could you post a mail address or a fax number or something? I know other agencies have done that and been very responsive, so I'm not sure why the IRS can't do the same."

In the meantime, they will keep calling to get their husband and father's estate the money it is rightfully owed.


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