IRS cracking down on ID theft, tax fraud


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Posted Online: Feb. 07, 2013, 7:32 pm
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MIAMI (AP) — With tax filing season heating up, an aggressive Internal Revenue Service crackdown is targeting the growing problem of criminals who use stolen identities to seek tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller said Thursday that a January sweep in 32 states and Puerto Rico identified 389 ID theft suspects, including 109 who were arrested. The number of IRS ID theft investigations tripled in 2012 and is focused on high-risk cities such as Miami, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles.

In 2012, the IRS says its investigations and in-house filtering systems prevented $20 billion in would-be fraudulent refunds, up from $14 billion the year before. But Miller acknowledged that thieves still get away with stealing numerous tax refunds, although the IRS could not provide exact loss figures.

"In terms of how much got past us, we're quite sure some did," Miller told reporters in a conference call. "I know it doesn't approach the number that we stopped."

Like so many other types of fraud, Florida again is a national leader. Florida tops the U.S. in identity theft complaints at 178 for every 100,000 residents, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The Miami area is even worse, at 324 complaints per 100,000 residents. Miller said Miami and Tampa are the epicenters of the problem in Florida.

"Identity theft tax refund fraud has spread though South Florida like a virus," said Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, whose office has prosecuted numerous tax fraud cases.

Legitimate taxpayers whose IDs are stolen often must wait months to get their refunds. Miller said there's a current backlog of 300,000 cases and an average wait time of 180 days for a resolution.

"I can say we are getting much better," Miller said. "We know that we need to do much, much more."

















 



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  Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.




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