Tax refund identity theft a growing issue

Aug. 7, 2012 at 9:13 PM
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BELLE GLADE, Fla., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A home in Belle Glade, Fla., has caught the eye of federal investigators, who say 741 tax returns were filed last year at the address.

More than $1 million in refunds were traced to the single Belle Glade address, The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday.

The home is ranked third in the country for the number of tax returns filed. Three of the top five nationwide are in Florida, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a report filed with a U.S. House oversight subcommittee.

"The report really underscores just how bad a problem ID tax fraud is in Florida and around the country," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "It's become an epidemic that's costing law-abiding U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars."

The report found thieves used the identities of 2,274 children, 105,000 deceased people and nearly 1 million others who usually don't file returns to collect about $5.2 billion in refunds. Such identity theft leaped to 155 percent last year.

An Orlando post office allegedly received $1,088,691 in refunds for 703 suspected fraudulent returns. In Tampa, a home allegedly sent out 518 potentially fraudulent returns, and netted almost $1.8 million in refunds.

"Over the past several years my office has seen a dramatic increase in the number of individuals needing assistance because of tax refund identity theft, a clear indication this crime is becoming a problem in South Florida," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman, D-Fla.

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