Keeping Busy behind Bars…Prisoners File at least 91,000 Fake Tax Refund Requests

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Confinement in prison has not stopped thousands of inmates from trying to rip off the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).


According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), prisoners filed at least 91,000 fraudulent tax refunds in 2010. This total represented a fivefold increase over 2004, when only 18,000 cases were discovered.


The amount of refunds that prisoners tried to receive also skyrocketed, from $68 million in 2004 to $2.5 billion in 2012. In many instances, inmates used stolen identities and other false information as part of their schemes.


The IRS has taken actions to catch many of the phony refunds before they are sent out. In 2010, the agency received $757 million in refund requests from prisoners, but only issued $35.2 million (about 4.6%). This rate was considerably better than in 2009, when the IRS paid 13.2% of the refunds, or the 20% in 2004.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Audit: More Work Needed To Keep Refunds From Prisoners (by Bernie Becker, The Hill)

2 Prison Inmates Claim $1.1 Billion In Tax Refunds; 173,000 Fraudulent Prison Tax Returns Uncovered (by Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press)

Further Efforts Are Needed to Ensure the Internal Revenue Service Prisoner File Is Accurate and Complete (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)



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