Prisoner Tax Refund Fraud

Monday, December 15th, 2014 @ 3:57PM

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September 25, 2014

Delays continue in completing agreements to share information with prisons, and reports to congress are not timely or complete

Reference Number: 2014-40-091


Refund fraud associated with prisoner Social Security Numbers remains a significant problem for tax administration. The number of fraudulent tax returns filed using a prisoner’s Social Security Number that were identified by the IRS increased from more than 37,000 tax returns in Calendar Year 2007 to more than 137,000 tax returns in Calendar Year 2012. The refunds claimed on these tax returns increased from $166 million to $1 billion.


This audit was initiated because prior TIGTA reports identified concerns with the IRS’s efforts to identify and prevent prisoner tax fraud. The overall objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of the IRS’s corrective actions to identify and reduce prisoner fraud.


TIGTA found that the IRS has not yet shared fraudulent prisoner tax return information with Federal or State prison officials. TIGTA also found that the required annual prisoner fraud reports to Congress are not timely and that the reports do not address the extent to which prisoners may be filing fraudulent tax returns using a different individual’s SSN. TIGTA also followed up on a condition identified in a past review and found that IRS processes still do not ensure that all tax returns filed using a prisoner Social Security Number are assigned a prisoner indicator.

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