Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has come under attack for malicious treatment of certain U.S. citizens and groups by singling them out based upon their personal political preferences. At this time, it is still unclear where the direct orders came from to initiate such heinous activities, but what is crystal clear is that this type of activity is not new for the IRS.
The Veterans Disability Act of 2010 is a Federal law which exempts VA disability from withholding of any sort. Actually, existing code USC, Title 38, §5301 already protected VA disability from withholding, but this provision was re-iterated and included in the newer legislation of 2010, because too many civil court judges were legislating from the bench and including veterans’ disability monies as earned income and granting it to ex-spouses (men and women) in divorce proceedings, at times, leaving disabled veterans without any safety net for self-care.
However, the IRS is still figuring out ways to get to a veteran’s disability money. How do I know? Recently, it happened to me.
A couple of months ago, when I logged into my online bank account to make sure that my VA disability check had been deposited (I am a 60% disabled veteran of the Iraq War) I saw red and a negative balance, beside which read the word “hold.”
I called my bank and was informed that the IRS had sent a letter demanding that the bank take all of the available funds out of my account on the first day of the month and then wire them to them. The bank gave me a telephone number at which to call the IRS. After being placed on hold for a very long time- long as in a biblical age- I finally spoke with an agent.
Long story short; they claim I made $157,000 in 2010 and that I owe them tons of money, and that until I pay it, a lien will remain on my personal bank account.
At the beginning of 2010, I was still in the hospital recovering from injuries I’d sustained while serving in Iraq. I was released early in the year, but still did not find employment until October, and even then, it was only part time. I can assure you, as I did the IRS, that I did not earn $157,000.00. Actually, I earned less than $10,000.00 in 2010.
I kindly read the federal code mentioned above to the lady I spoke with at the IRS, reminding her that VA disability money is 100% exempt. She placed me on hold for another age (I could see a man coming- bearing water- over the horizon) and then she came back on the line and told me, “We do not take veterans’ disability money. We wait until the funds are deposited from the VA and then we take all of the funds from your bank account.”
Isn’t this called laundering?
I find it ironic, now, that only weeks before the IRS put this hold on my bank account, I’d been asked to be a contributing writer for key Tea Party personality “Joe the Plumber.” I’d been writing freelance articles on veterans affairs for some time, publishing and distributing them mostly through Facebook, and I viewed the personal call Joe made to me as one of the greatest compliments I’d been paid in regard to those articles. I jumped at the opportunity to join his team and give my work, such as this piece, a wider audience. I can’t help but think that part of my decision to join Joe’s team may have played a part in being singled out by the IRS at this specific time and having my VA disability money taken from me in complete breach of federal law.
The good news is that through my persistence, and my refusal to accept their answer, that it is okay to launder VA disability money, I was able to get the IRS to refund all of the money they’d taken from my bank. I am working with the IRS to remedy their great misunderstanding of my earnings for 2010, and I am reaching out to all disabled veterans to let them know that if this is happening to them, they do have rights, and they need to stand up for them.
As many veterans know, our war does not stop once we make it home. Often, new battles begin, such as battles for the rights our government promised they’d provide for us upon our return from war that they often turn around and attempt to take away.
Currently in America, twenty two veterans a day are committing suicide. One of the biggest contributors to the suicide epidemic is our veterans’ inability to find suitable work after serving and the inability to take care of themselves and their families financially. This is why VA disability is sacred- except in the eyes of the IRS. Too many disabled veterans in the U.S. are just a disability check away from being on the street and joining the already nearly 70,000 homeless veterans in America.
If you are a veteran receiving disability from the VA, and you are having it garnished, withheld, or having a lien placed upon it for any reason, please contact the entity who is withholding, garnishing, or who has placed the lien, and reference the federal code stated earlier in this article. You stood up for the rights of all people of a great nation in combat, but unfortunately, you must continue to stand up for yourselves to ensure that the promises of being taken care of upon your return are kept. But you can do it, because you are a warrior, and that’s what warriors do.
Kevin E Lake is an Iraq War Veteran and author. His book “Off Switch” was written to raise awareness of the veteran suicide epidemic in the U.S. and can be purchased on Amazon at: