Tax season is upon us and for criminals who like to steal identities, it’s their favorite time of year! Identity theft for the purpose of filing false tax returns continues to grow. Over the last two years the IRS has stopped 14.6 million suspicious returns and declined over $50 billion in fraudulent refunds. This year the IRS will continue to try to prevent tax fraud with expanded services and more than 3,000 employees who will work on tax-related identity theft. They will also provide training to another 35,000 employees to work with taxpayers who are victims and to identify suspicious indicators of tax fraud.
Identity theft is one of the most frustrating, time-consuming, complex processes for its victims. Usually identity information is stolen outside the IRS system, but the taxpayer is made aware of the identity theft by the IRS. In 2013, 1,492 identity theft cases were investigated by the IRS. This is a 66% increase from just the year before. Punishment also doubled as indictments and sentencing doubled. The average prison time for these crimes was 38 months.
The Federal Trade Commission’s annual report lists tax and wage-related fraud as the most common kind of identity theft in 2012. Reports of this were up over 19% from the previous year.
For more information about protecting your identity and taxes, visit http://www.irs.gov/. You may also schedule an Identity theft presentation with the Crime Prevention Unit at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office by calling 352-374-1800.
SHERIFF SADIE DARNELL