PA Woman Claims to be Princess, Gets $1.2 Million Refund from IRS

Claiming to be Hawaiian royalty, a Pennsylvania woman has become a thorn in the side of the Internal Revenue Service, which has repeatedly sent her refunds and personal information belonging to the rightful heir. In the latest blunder, the IRS sent Abigail Roberts a $2.1 million tax refund that should have gone to Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa.

Roberts, 61, a cafeteria worker, filed a tax return using Kawananakoa’s Social Security number and received the $2.1 million tax refund of money either Kawananakoa or her estate had paid the IRS in anticipation of taxes due. Because Roberts’ return was the first to be filed using the Social Security number, she received the refund, even though she claimed income of just $4,715, and an earned income credit of $371 in a joint return filed on behalf of herself and her disabled husband.

When the funds were deposited, wary bank employees, aware of Roberts’ history of claiming to be the real heir to the Bishop and Campbell estates in her native Hawaii, notified the IRS. The IRS has recovered all but $100,000 of the refund from the Roberts and is suing to get back the remainder.

"I know I am" a princess, she firmly told Knight Ridder Newspapers, seated last week at her cluttered dining-room table with a thick file folder in her hands, filled with legal pleadings and correspondence relating to her claims of royalty. Kawananakoa, 73, is recognized as an heir and legal representative of two wealthy estates, the Bishop and Campbell estates, federal authorities told Knight Ridder.

The mistake by the IRS sheds the light on just how easy it can be to get one by the taxman.

"An erroneous refund of this magnitude is a rare occurrence," IRS spokesman Bill Cressman, told Knight Ridder. But a source close to the case told Knight Ridder that the IRS should have avoided this costly mistake, especially when Roberts has a past record of trying to lay claim to Kawananakoa’s estate.

"There were 50 million red flags," the source said, referring to Abigail Roberts' decade-long history of run-ins with federal tax collectors, which include a 2001 acquittal of tax-refund fraud totaling $34,000.

You may like these other stories...

Accounting group pushes back against retirement age scrutinyMichael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal reported that the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) on Monday pushed back against federal regulators who are again...
There's still time to take advantage of last-minute, tax-saving moves for dependency exemptions. For 2014, there are bigger dependency exemptions, as well as rules that, in some cases, are dauntingly complex.The 2014...
Tesco accounting probe finds “inappropriate behavior” by staff – reportsClare Hutchison of Reuters wrote on Sunday that an investigation into a 250 million-pound ($402 million) profit overstatement at...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 22This webinar will include discussions of important issues in AU-C 800, Audits of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance with Special Purpose Frameworks.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.
Oct 30Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links.
Nov 5Join CPA thought leader and peer reviewer Rob Cameron and learn ways to improve the outcome of your peer reviews while maximizing the value of your engagement workflow.