Congresswoman Lois Frankel

Representing the 22nd District of Florida

Frankel Calls on IRS to Crack Down on Taxpayer Refund Fraud

Feb 19, 2013
Press Release
“We simply cannot let these important tax revenues fall into the hands of criminals”

Boca Raton, FL—Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-22) today authored a letter to the IRS urging them to work on combatting fraud in the wake of a new report about an alarming new tax fraud scam being perpetrated on unsuspecting taxpayers.  The fraud is occurring because criminals are stealing Social Security numbers and submitting fraudulent income tax returns and when the real tax filers seek their refunds they find that criminals have already claimed it and the victims must wait months or even a year to receive the refund that is rightfully theirs.

NPR reported that “a lot of the fraud is coming out of South Florida” and according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, refund fraud cases have increased by about 650 percent since 2008.

Frankel wrote in the letter, “The scope of the refund fraud is staggering…Regrettably, South Florida appears to be the epicenter for this tax fraud epidemic…At a time when Congress and the President are grappling with how to balance our federal budget, we simply cannot let these important tax revenues fall into the hands of criminals.”

 

The full letter follows.

February 19, 2013

Steven T. Miller

Acting Commissioner

Internal Revenue Service

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 3241

Washington, DC 20224

 

Dear Acting Commissioner Miller:

I recently learned about an alarming new tax fraud scam being perpetrated on unsuspecting taxpayers.  According to an NPR story that aired on February 18, criminals are stealing Social Security numbers and submitting fraudulent income tax returns to unlawfully claim the corresponding refunds.  When real tax filers seek their refunds, they find that criminals have already claimed it, and the victims must wait months or even a year to receive the refund that is rightfully theirs.   

The scope of the refund fraud is staggering.  According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, refund fraud cases have increased by about 650 percent since 2008.  Regrettably, South Florida appears to be the epicenter for this tax fraud epidemic.  In my short time as a Member of Congress, I have already received three cases of Social Security identity theft, including one constituent who had his identity stolen three times and now cannot obtain a new Social Security Card. 

Each refund fraud case contributes to the loss of much-needed federal revenues.  One official with the Treasury Department estimated that the fraud scam could cost the federal government $21 billion over the next five years.  At a time when Congress and the President are grappling with how to balance our federal budget, we simply cannot let these important tax revenues fall into the hands of criminals. 

To this end, I respectfully request an update on ways the IRS is combatting refund fraud, including responses to the following questions:

  • How is the IRS using the most advanced technology to help identify potentially fraudulent refund claims? 
  • Does the IRS employ interoperable computer systems, so that all departments within the IRS can share the same data, flag potential problems and resolve conflicts in the most efficient timeframe possible?
  • How is the IRS coordinating with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Justice, and other relevant federal agencies to combat refund fraud? 
  • In what ways is the IRS facilitating a single point of contact for victims of identity theft in the event that victims must interact with multiple units at the IRS?

With the tax filing season underway, I trust that you will respond to my request in a timely fashion, and I look forward to working with you on this and future issues to ensure that the Internal Revenue Service is best serving the needs of the American public.

 

Sincerely,

                                                            Lois Frankel

Member of Congress

 

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