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How the Grinch Stole My Tax Refund

by Melissa Rager

The Grinch hated taxes.  The whole busy season!
Now, please don’t ask why.  No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his itemized deductions were not quite right.
It could be, perhaps that Uncle Sam picked a fight.
But I think the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his tax refund was a few grand too small.

We all know the story about how the Grinch stole Christmas, but he has since moved on from Who-ville and is now lurking around trying to steal individuals’ tax refunds that many of us are looking forward to as this year’s filing deadline is quickly approaching.

The days of the Wild West where cruising the open plains on horseback and robbing banks was the fad has long past.  Today, criminals have found a new way to make a quick buck: sitting in the comfort of their own home, sipping on an iced latte from the local Starbucks, and filing fraudulent tax returns online using stolen identities.  The fraud has become so severe (in some cases tens of millions of dollars have been cashed in by single criminal rings) that it has recently gained national media attention, and most especially, the IRS’ attention.

The IRS has partially brought this upon themselves by shortening the time they take to issue refunds, often doing so before any tax documentation (W-2s, 1099′s, etc.) has been cross referenced to the filed returns.  The option of having your refund deposited onto untraceable debit cards is also making it easier for criminals to commit the fraud.  These two things, along with criminals filing fraudulent returns before individuals file their own legitimate return have made the fraud extremely easy.  So easy that in 2011, the Treasury was robbed of $6.5 billion, and that number is only expected to go up in 2012.  Not even Butch Cassidy could have dreamt of having that much dough.

What does this mean for you, the law abiding individual?  If you are the subject to such fraud, it could take up to a year to receive your refund that you are entitled to as the IRS investigates.  It also means you are a victim of identity theft meaning your social security number and other personal information has been compromised.  Or, the IRS could decide to delay the time it takes to issue refunds in the future to try to prevent some of the fraud.

The Grinch already stole Christmas.  Don’t allow him to steal your tax refund as well.

This entry was posted in Audit & Tax Talk and tagged Accounting. Bookmark the permalink.

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