The government just expanded its refund fraud-targeting program to all 50 states.
Last April, the IRS launched a program to catch crooks filling out tax forms under other people’s names to steal their refunds. It was so easy you could literally commit tax fraud from prison, as we wrote a few months ago.
They started in Florida, where a lot of the cases were coming from. Six months later, they expanded it to eight other states. Now, almost a full year since it started, Reuters says the IRS is ready to roll it out everywhere.
A key component of the program allows police access to fraud victims’ tax documents (and documents filed in their names) – but only with victims’ permission. Until now, the IRS has been firm about protecting taxpayer privacy, but Reuters says they’re lightening up in some ways because the documents can be useful as evidence in prosecutions.
The agency claims its efforts prevented an extra $6 billion in tax fraud last fiscal year. We’ve written about other aspects of their fraud-fighting this year. They’ve doubled the number of employees focusing on identity theft, trained thousands to recognize signs of it, and worked with over 100 financial institutions to block refunds from reaching thieves.
Of course, they’ve also been making silly Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek spoof videos.