June 22, 2021

WWII veteran still waiting for refund from 2019

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A 97-year-old U.S. Navy veteran fears she’ll pass away before the IRS puts her check in the mail. The woman’s daughter reached out to KDKA News for help, saying she’s sent every requested piece of paperwork, but after 15 months of waiting, no luck.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller sat down with the family and found out why a resolution would mean so much.

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“I’d like her to see the money, it’d be a real gift,” said Cindy Giovannitti, Julia Strelec’s daughter.

Giovannitti reached out to KDKA after more than year of no answers from the IRS regarding her 97-year-old mother’s 2019 income tax return.

“It’s frustrating, it’s been maddening, and its turning into a full-time job,” she said.

Giovannitti spends hours standing at her computer.

“I’ve made dozens and dozens of phone calls, written lots of letters, talked to a lot of different people,” she said.

She’s calling the IRS to figure out why her mom’s 2019 income tax return check never arrived in the mail.

“[It’s] $6,500,” said World War II veteran Julia Strelec.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller said, “That’s good money.”

“Yeah, I could use a lot of it,” said Strelec.

Strelec’s 2020 return already landed in the mailbox, so what’s the hold up?

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“[The IRS said] your father died, so we need his death certificate, and then they said we need your mother’s birth certificate,” said Giovannitti. “Have fun digging up a birth certificate from that time. From 1924.”

But she did, because for her mom – that check means independence.

“I’d like to go see my older sister,” said Strelec. “She’s bedfast and I’d like to go see her.”

For Giovannitti, it’s standing up for the woman who always looked out for her.

“She’s 97. And she worries about things,” she said. “Elderly people worry about everything, and now this is one more thing that she has to worry about.”

Strelec admits she’s not a fan of getting old.

“Life gets boring when you get older, you do nothing, you know?” Strelec said.

But she’d feel a whole lot better if she could check this looming task off her list.

“I can’t imagine it taking that long,” said Strelec.

She saw a lot in World War II, and never thought her nagging unfinished business would involve a simple tax return.

“I always tell my daughter they’re waiting until I die so they don’t have to send it to me,” said Strelec.

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The IRS tells KDKA’s Meghan Schiller it cannot comment on specific taxpayers, but we made sure to get Strelec’s story and information into the right person’s hands. We will provide an update when the check arrives in the mail.

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