Watch CBS News

'I'm Not Dead!' Sacramento Mom Denied Stimulus Money, Tax Returns, Because IRS Says She's Dead

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Watching home video Tiffany Ruvalcaba shot during a recent family trip to Tahoe, it's clear she isn't deceased.

"I am very much alive," Ruvalcaba confirmed during our interview.

But that's not what the IRS says. The mother of four hasn't been able to file her taxes for two years.

"Basically the government says I'm dead," Ruvalcaba said.

When she filed her 2018 taxes, the IRS claimed they were "unable to process" her tax return because "the taxpayer…was deceased"

"It's really creepy that I've had to talk about my death for so long," Ruvalcaba said.

A trip to the Social Security office revived her in 2018 and she got that year's tax return, but she faced the same problem in 2019, and when she tried to file her 2020 taxes online?

"They were rejected." Ruvalcaba said, adding: "Everyone assures me it's been corrected, and yet every time we file, it comes back again."

Between two tax refunds and stimulus money, she says the IRS now owes her $15,000. Privacy laws prohibit the IRS from answering our questions but the agency says when something like this happens, you should send proof Social Security has not deemed you dead, and request the IRS unlock your account.

Tiffany did that more than a year ago but seems still to be dead in their eyes.

"IRS says it's Social Security's fault, Social Security says its IRS's fault. I don't care who's at fault anymore. I really don't. I just want to fix it," Ruvalcaba said.

When stuck getting results from a federal agency, one place to get answers is your federal lawmaker. In this case, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, through their constituent help programs. They have an inside line into these government agencies. Matsui's office is now working directly with the IRS
four weeks in and Tiffany is still waiting to be revived.

"I'm really curious how I died. What is the cause of death on my death certificate, you know?" Ruvalcaba said.

As of tonight, no one can explain why she was declared dead or why it's been so hard to bring her back to life.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.