“It’s not the normal identity-theft situation,” admitted Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen regarding a problem of fraud, discovered by the staff of Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, at the recent Senate Finance Committee hearing per multiple accounts of the matter.
Apparently the IRS has been perplexed as to how to address the issue of illegal immigrants using other peoples’ Social Security numbers, according to one article over at theHill. Writer Naomi Jagoda reports that the government agency does not want to discourage anyone from filing their taxes.
“[I]t’s in everybody’s interest to have them pay the taxes they owe,” Koskinen is quoted as saying before the Finance panel. “Koskinen said the IRS is looking to see if there is a way it can advise people that their SSNs were used fraudulently,” Jagoda notes in the article.
Senator: ‘IRS appears to be collaborating’
Senator Dan Coats of Indiana apparently discovered the troubling situation and asked Koskinen “… why the IRS appears to be collaborating with taxpayers who file tax returns using fraudulent information,” according to the story written by Rudy Takala over at the WashingtonExaminer. It appeared to Takala that “[t]he IRS is struggling to ensure that illegal immigrants are able to illegally use Social Security numbers for legitimate purposes….” The agency does not think the fraudulent use is being done for “bad” reasons however, Takala also notes.
Senator Coats also said that his staff had discovered the practice after looking into agency procedures. “What we learned is that … the IRS continues to process tax returns with false W-2 information and issue refunds as if they were routine tax returns, and say that’s not really our job. We also learned the IRS ignores notifications from the Social Security Administration that a name does not match a Social Security number, and you use your own system to determine whether a number is valid.”
Koskinen tried to explain it all. Per the Takala article, the IRS chief told the Senators that in these situations of fraud “… someone is using a Social Security number to get a job, but they’re filing their tax return with their [taxpayer identification number].” What that means to the IRS chief then is that “they are undocumented aliens” but they are trying to pay their taxes. “It’s in everybody’s interest to have them pay the taxes they owe,” Koskinen added.
The question arises whether or not the information being used on tax returns is only used fraudulently to “obtain jobs” Koskinen told the panel. The IRS, he believes, has an interest in helping them. “The question is whether the Social Security number they’re using to get the job has been stolen. It’s not the normal identity theft situation,” said the IRS Commissioner.
More criminal reports:
In other news, the U.S. Treasury Department has been prosecuting IRS employees as well as slippery, tech-savvy people trying to impersonate IRS employees. (See stories over at TreasuryDeptIRS and TreasuryDepartmentCAman.)
In the first posting, it is reported that employees of the IRS were involved in a conspiracy. “In total, the conspirators used the means of identification of more than 250 people without lawful authority and sought to obtain at least $1.4 million in money, services, and property from merchants, cardholders, and financial institutions.”
In the second link, the posting reports that “… the Government alleged that [a man from California surnamed York] made an interstate communication for the purpose of harassment, i.e., a telephone call originating in California by means of an application called ‘Spoofcard,’ whose servers were located in New Jersey. In the communication, York failed to truthfully identify himself and also used a voice alteration feature to further conceal his identity.  The voice mail left for the victim represented that Judy Smith from the IRS was calling and stated that a tax audit was going to be requested for years 2005, 2006, and 2007. The caller requested a return call to the number listed on the caller ID and further said that if the victim could not be reached, the IRS would be checking into his past and looking into his records. ”
Additionally, the Treasury posting states that the Government alleged “… it was York’s purpose to annoy and harass the victim with the voice mail, as well as with other continued instances of harassment. Among other things, York incessantly called the victim over the course of several months, placed a phony advertisement for the sale of a car on Craigslist with the victim’s address listed, and posted a sign on the victim’s street claiming he was a child predator. ”