IRS files hundreds of criminal charges in identity theft crackdown

Tax season is upon us, and the Internal Revenue Service is warning people in Alabama and other states across the country that they are cracking down on identity theft.

Officials with the IRS recently reported that in 2011, the distribution of $1.4 billion in fraudulent tax refunds was halted as the IRS worked to combat identity theft. IRS officials say the amount of tax fraud in the United States has increased in recent years. In 2010, less than 50,000 false tax returns were identified. However last year, 260,000 fraudulent tax returns were identified.

In January, the IRS and Justice Department filed 939 criminal charges against individuals accused of tax crimes in 23 states across the country.

Authorities claim that employees at a bank were responsible for stealing the identities of Puerto Rican citizens in a massive tax refund scheme. They say that others used the identities of taxpayers with mental disabilities or taxpayers who are deceased to collect fraudulent tax refunds.

Although federal authorities assume the worst, some of the people recently charged may only be guilty of human errors. Because of the tough economy, more Americans are likely filing their own tax returns and could be making simple mistakes.

Anyone in Alabama who feels they have been wrongly accused of a white collar crime, such as identity theft, would likely benefit from working with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can work to ensure that their client's rights remain protected throughout the entire process while they aggressively fight the charges.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. crackdown stops $1.4 billion in bad tax refunds," Nanette Byrnes and Mark Porter, Jan. 31, 2012

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