As tax season approaches at the beginning of each year, we normally see quite a few tax return fraud cases, both in the news and as new criminal defense cases in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Most of these cases involve someone obtaining social security numbers and other identification information for people and then filing false returns for tax refunds in their names. Other cases might involve allegations of suspects counterfeiting tax return checks and then getting other people to deposit or cash them without proper authorization.
According to the government, tax return fraud has gone up significantly over the last several years. According to the IRS, the state with the most tax return fraud is Florida. One suspected reason is that Florida has a higher population of elderly people who may be more vulnerable fraud victims. Overall, the government reports that there were 1.2 million cases of tax fraud in the United States in 2012, which is a huge increase from the approximately 48,000 cases in 2008. Of course, these are only the reported numbers. No one knows the actual number of tax return fraud cases out there each year.
The IRS is responding by allocating agents and money towards tax return fraud. However, they are only catching a fraction of the people involved in tax return fraud. The IRS has acknowledged that the better way to approach this issue is to make it more difficult to commit tax return fraud. Apparently, as it stands now, if someone has your name and social security number, it is fairly easy to file for a tax refund and redirect the funds to another account or address.