By Michael Cohn
The Internal Revenue Service has been increasing its efforts to crack down in recent weeks on tax-related identity theft, working with the Justice Department and federal prosecutors around the country to make 11 arrests and indict 15 individuals, as well as see five other individuals or businesses sentenced for participating in refund fraud or identity theft schemes.
The IRS revealed the results Wednesday of a national two-week enforcement and education campaign to combat tax refund crimes and identity theft that led to legal actions against suspected criminals and businesses committing tax crimes. Through its Security Summit initiative, the IRS has teamed up with state tax agencies, software industry, tax industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors since 2015 to fight identity theft refund fraud to safeguard taxpayers.
"Identity theft is a pervasive crime and stopping it remains a top priority of the IRS," said IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement. "The IRS, with the help of our Security Summit partners, continues to make progress in this area, but we need to continue our significant efforts to protect taxpayers and assist those who have been a victim of identity theft. We are fighting this problem with enhanced systems, smarter technology and the efforts of our dedicated workforce, including Criminal Investigation. We will retain our relentless, vigorous pursuit of those who prey upon others in this arena."
The IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit is also working to investigate and prosecute unscrupulous tax preparers this tax season.
“Millions of taxpayers put their trust in tax professionals to prepare accurate and lawful returns,” said IRS criminal investigation chief Don Fort in a statement. “Unfortunately, a few bad apples take advantage of that trust for their own greed and profit. CI's special agents are highly skilled at unraveling fraudulent schemes. With our partners in other agencies and the private sector, we are dismantling these crooked enterprises and enforcing our tax laws.”