What did you spend your tax refund on?  Some are funding vacations, others new investments like boats and ski-dos – still more are applying them to bills, or to their children’s college funds.  But in Overland Park, Kansas – and in other places across the country – those plans have been put on hold.  That’s the story from KSHB Action News in this Fraud of the Day.

According to the report, 22 people (so far) in this small town have filed formal complaints with the police department.  The message:  “where’s my refund?”  An Overland Park officer is stumped.  “We haven’t seen this magnitude,” the report quotes him as saying.  The story profiles one case, in which a resident tried to file through a popular Internet tax service and was rejected.  His Social Security number had already been used to file a fake return in his name, and the money that should have gone to him, went to someone else.  (Wonder if he’ll ever see his refund?)

Fraudsters are typically among of the first to file (they are an ambitious lot).  Unfortunately, the majority of refund checks are issued before the government has a chance to verify W-2s.  In the case of some, that means a quicker path to the bank.  In the case of 22 people in Overland Park – and 50,000 complainants each week to the Federal Trade Commission– it means a very long wait indeed.

Now that tax season has come and gone, it is time to evaluate the scope of the problem.  How many people were ripped off by tax refund fraudsters?  How many taxpayer dollars were lost to tax refund fraud?  Perhaps most importantly, government revenue agencies need to understand how the fraudulent claims slipped through the process, so they can take the necessary steps to prevent fraud from occurring next year.

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