IRS Tax Fraud Increasing
Identity theft linked to IRS tax fraud has been increasing. However, according to a recent government report, the IRS is actually unaware of the number of persons who are running scams on the system.
Based on a study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a watchdog that collaborates with Congress, between January and September 2012, there were approximately 642,000 incidents of identity theft which involved tax fraud, which is 62 percent more than 2011. The report further stated that during that same period of time, the IRS would have paid some $754 million in refunds that were suspicious.
The report also shared that returns that involve identity theft are hard to track. The IRS informed the GAO that it is unable to determine why and how this is happening. American taxpayers who have been victims of identity theft and false returns, may experience delayed refunds and have to pay additional costs for re-filing, in addition to the tons of paperwork.
Unfortunately, the tax and fraud professionals advised that this problem in increasing because it is easy to run the scam via electronic filing such as turbotax 2011. Once scammers have someone’s Social Security number and name, they can apply for the refund to be transmitted via direct deposit. Therefore, it is difficult for the IRS software to determine the legitimacy of the returns that are filed.
This problem is estimated to burden the US Government by billions of dollars. CNBC reported that the IRS inspector general forecasted an estimated $21 billion that could be paid out over the next five years in tax refunds that are fraudulent.
One of GAO’s directors, James White, shared with The Huffington Post that this problem is hard to solve and partnering with the banks could be one of the solutions. During the first nine months of 2012, 116 banks reported information to the IRS about over 193,000 accounts that were linked to tax fraud. White further stated that this type of crime is hard to catch and measure.
The IRS was able to block an estimated 262,000 fraudulent tax returns in 2011. However, according to CNNMoney, approximately $5.2 billion was lost to identity theft.