The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration just completed an audit of IRS efforts to stop identity theft and fraudulent tax returns. The report estimates that the government may have given out over $5 billion (yes that is billion with a B) in fraudulent tax refunds. Houston made the top five list with almost 23,000 potentially fraudulent tax returns originating from there. However the big culprits are Tampa and Miami Florida which combined for almost 163,000 potentially fraudulent returns filed from addresses in those two cities.
In just two years, the incidence of fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft has increased 246% and that is just the returns caught by the IRS. The Treasury Department identified over 2,000 individual tax returns that all used the same address in Lansing Michigan and in total claimed over $3.3 million in tax refunds.
The taxpayers who are most likely to be victims of identity theft were found to be:
- Individuals with income
levels that don't require
them to file a return 64%
- Students age 16 to 22 19%
- Deceased taxpayers 7%
- All other categories 10%
The IRS will continue to work on improving their procedures to identify and stop identity theft. Individual taxpayers who believe they may have been a victim of identity theft are encouraged to visit the IRS webpage on identity theft.