IRS Teams Up With Tax Industry to Fight Refund Fraud Tied to Identity Theft


As many as 80 Shawnee residents found out this year that someone else beat them to their tax refunds, thanks to identity theft.

That’s more refund fraud victims than Detective John Stirling helped last year, which had produced more victims than two years ago.

So many cases happen nationally that Stirling now waits three to four months for copies of the fraudulent returns from the IRS instead of the two weeks he waited a few years ago.

“It’s increased exponentially,” the detective said.

Which is why the IRS, H&R Block, TurboTax maker Intuit and others in the tax industry announced joint battle plans Thursday to reduce tax refund fraud tied to identity theft.

And they pledged to have those defenses in place before Americans file their returns next year.

Much of the effort involves sharing information across companies and government agencies. They are pledging to jointly watch for signs of schemes during the tax season and to alert one another when problems surface.

A campaign to educate taxpayers how to protect themselves is part of the plan as well, but the threat has grown beyond personal financial pain.

This is also about protecting the nation’s tax system, said John Koskinen, head of the Internal Revenue Service.

“We are dealing more and more with organized crime syndicates here and around the world,” Koskinen said during a presentation to reporters.

Taxpayers increasingly have become victims of fraud as schemers use stolen identities to file false tax returns and claim refunds before the taxpayer files. In many cases, the taxpayer finds out something is wrong when the IRS rejects the tax return because one in the taxpayer’s name already had been filed by a scammer.

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SOURCE: Mark Davis
The Kansas City Star 

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