Omaha man battling to process taxes after being declared dead by IRS

An Omaha man is very much alive -- but he's been fighting to convince the IRS he isn't dead.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:29 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As he lives and breathes, Johnny Denard Jr. has battled the IRS for refusing to process his tax returns.

“I want them to know I’m very much alive, and I need my stimulus check, and I need my refunds from here on out and I don’t need to be dead no more,” Denard said.

Johnny’s returns have been returned twice in three years because the IRS listed him as deceased -- even though he has a driver’s license and Social Security card to prove he’s alive.

“The longest I stayed on the phone was four hours,” Denard said. “I probably got 20 hours in on phone calls.”

And when no refund checks or stimulus money arrived, that put Johnny in a spot for paying bills.

Johnny’s a farmer by trade, and while on a home under construction, out walked the homeowner who had been checking on progress. Johnny recognized someone who can help him convince the IRS he’s still alive.

The soon-to-be homeowner: Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon.

“I haven’t heard that one before,” Bacon said. “A guy comes up and says, ‘Hey, the IRS thinks I’m not alive and they won’t let me pay my taxes,’ and that’s a unique situation.”

“I walked up to him and said ‘sir, I don’t know if you can help me or not, but the IRS says I’m legally dead’, and he’s like ‘you look alive to me,’” Denard said.

So Bacon gave Johnny his office number.

“I grabbed a 2x4 and just wrote his number down and chucked in the car,” he said.

Johnny then built a case with Bacon’s constituent team that convinced the IRS to accept all of his tax returns and provide back refunds.

“There’s the stimulus and the IRS says we can’t pay the stimulus because you weren’t alive at the time,” Bacon said. “So now he’s back alive. We’ve got to get him the stimulus back too, so we’re working on that.”

Denard’s father died years ago, so Johnny Jr. suspects Social Security -- which feeds information to the IRS -- finally caught up and then confused the two.

“I’m afraid that when I do retire and start drawing my Social Security, the only income I’ll have, this will happen again,” he said.

After moving from Texas, Johnny Denard plans to stay in Nebraska where he knows Congressman Bacon can keep his benefits alive.

Believe it or not, the IRS has a website on what to do if the IRS incorrectly reported you as deceased -- but the agency can’t comment on specific cases.