The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS') Criminal Investigation team (CI) should increase its involvement in the enforcement against identity theft issues. From FY 2013 to FYY 2017, there was a 75-percent decrease in the number of CI-initiated identity theft investigations; overall, there was a 43-percent decline in these types of investigations over the same period. In addition, many taxpayer requests for identity theft investigations were not entered into the CI referral system process.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its Security Summit partners recently announced the results from their last 3 years of fighting tax-related identity theft. The summit first met in 2015, and the first initiatives were enacted in 2016. Since 2015, the number of taxpayers reporting they were victims of identity theft has decreased 71 percent. The number of confirmed identity theft returns stopped by the IRS declined by 54 percent in the same period.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its Security Summit partners have released a warning about a new variation on phone scams by which criminals prey on taxpayers. Scammers are now using telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to try to trick victims into paying non-existent tax bills. Remember that IRS employees at these centers do not make calls to taxpayers to demand payment; such requests are typically initiated through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Department of Justice has permanently barred a Southern California tax preparer from preparing federal returns for others, following a complaint filed by the government that the tax professional had been filing returns claiming a total of more than $9 million in fraudulent refunds since at least 2009. She agreed to the injunction and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims, tax evasion, and aggravated identity theft.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released its top-12 list of tax scams to watch for in the current tax year, an annual list called the "Dirty Dozen." Topping the list in 2018 are the perennial telephone and phishing scams, identity theft, and return preparer fraud. Also included are acts such as falsely padding deductions, making improper claims for business credits, and falsifying income. For the complete list and information from the IRS on how to protect yourself from tax scams, click here.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is keeping tax-related identity theft on its "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams to watch for in 2018, despite a significant decline in this type of crime in recent years. Tax-related identity theft is the act of using a stolen taxpayer identification number to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports of identity theft, compared to 401,000 reports in 2016. This is due in part to the Security Summit partnership, launched in 2015, which has enacted various safeguards to prevent tax-related crimes. However, identity theft remains on the IRS' list of most common tax-related crimes. To read suggestions to protect yourself and your business from identity theft, click here.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) kicked off its annual "Dirty Dozen" awareness campaign about common tax scams for 2018 with a reminder that phishing schemes are still a serious threat to personal information safety, and are evolving. The most recent variation on phishing (previously described here) involves an unexpected deposit into the bank account of a target. Criminals are filing fraudulent tax returns, and directing refunds to be deposited into real bank accounts of victims. The criminals then call the victim who received the deposit and demand the return of the funds as erroneous.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has failed to notify the majority of individuals they found to be victims of employment identity theft. When an identity thief uses another individual's information to obtain employment, the victim may have taxes computed based on income they did not personally earn, and may experience other difficulties. The IRS has a computer-based process to notify victims of the issue, but due to a programming error related to a decision to notify only newly identified victims, the IRS failed to notify over 450,000 individuals for processing year 2017. In addition, over 15,000 individuals who did receive notice (13.5 percent of the total group notified) were not actually victims of employment identity theft.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is warning taxpayers about a new, multi-layer scam this tax season: erroneous refunds. Criminals are filing fraudulent returns to get money deposited into victims' accounts using data stolen from tax professionals, then posing as debt collection agency officials to request that the victims "return" the money due to an error. Other victims are receiving recorded messages threatening the taxpayer with criminal fraud charges and other consequences if the erroneous refund is not returned.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently released the fiscal year 2017 annual report for its Criminal Investigation Division (CI). During FY 2017, CI initiated over 3,000 cases concerning Title 18 and Title 31 crimes, with 72.5% of its investigation time spent on tax matters such as refund fraud, identity theft, abusive tax schemes, and cyber crimes. Its investigations identified $2.5 billion in funds related to tax fraud, and the division had a 91.5% overall conviction rate.