In our last post, we discussed tax fraud and how common it can be during this time of year. People make honest mistakes on returns while filing their taxes and end up facing the IRS, state authorities and severe consequences.
The reason that tax crimes are taken so seriously, even when tax errors are unintentional, is that fraud is a very real issue. According to a recent report by KARE 11, an estimated $100 million has been paid out in fraudulent tax returns in this state alone and over the course of only one year.
Lawmakers and law enforcement authorities have long been focused on tackling tax fraud. It is a unique type of offense in that it is often carried out without anyone even realizing it until much later. People can have their Social Security number taken without their knowledge, and with the ease of filing taxes online and direct deposit options, it may be easier than ever for people to collect someone else’s tax refund.
In the report by KARE 11, it is also pointed out that tax fraud and identify theft can involve people of all ages from all types of backgrounds. A person can access personal and financial information by taking someone’s mail, sending a phishing email or working with someone else in a position to check credit reports.
Considering how seemingly easy it can be for any person to obtain and use someone else’s identity, many people can get caught up in serious offenses. It may also be easy for people to rationalize their actions by believing that no one is getting hurt. After all, there is typically no personal contact and the money that is obtained comes from the IRS, not out of a person’s hand or wallet.
But make no mistake: Identity theft and tax fraud are very serious offenses. Any person facing these charges can be subjected to aggressive prosecution, intensive investigations and harsh punishments so it can be wise to consult an attorney sooner, rather than later.
Source: KARE 11, “Identity thieves targeting tax refunds,” A.J. Lagoe and Steve Eckert, Feb. 2, 2015