Today, Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) joined fellow Ways and Means Committee members Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA), Ranking Member John Lewis (D-GA), and Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA), in introducing the "Fighting Tax Fraud Act". This bipartisan legislation increases the penalties for tax preparers who defraud taxpayers and the IRS by altering tax returns for personal benefit without their clients knowledge. This increase in penalty will give the IRS greater incentive to prosecute this type of theft. This legislation was a recommendation from the National Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization in the IRS charged with assisting taxpayers in their problems with the IRS.
"Taxpayers put good faith in the tax preparers who they hire to file their annual forms. If a preparer willfully commits fraud against their client, and ultimately the government, they should be held responsible. This is a common-sense, good government measure that will cut down on the amount of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal tax system. I look forward to seeing this legislation move through the Ways & Means Committee and enacted into law," said Rep. Paulsen.
"This hearing focused on protecting hard-working consumers against the fraud and abuse associated with identity theft and tax fraud. The Fighting Tax Fraud Act deters tax preparers from fraudulently misrepresenting tax returns in order to steal from their clients. Honest taxpayers should not have to worry about being swindled by those preparing their taxes. This legislation presents a common sense solution to a problem that affects hard-working taxpayers across the country," said Chairman Boustany.
"Taxpayers who are defrauded by their tax preparers should not be left holding the bag. Today we are sending a strong message to tax preparers who defraud innocent taxpayers that the federal government will not tolerate fraud. This bill ensures that errant preparers will be met with increased penalties and heightened IRS enforcement. I am pleased that members of the Ways and Means Committee worked in a bipartisan fashion on this occasion to crack down on tax fraud," said Rep. Lewis.
"Every year millions of taxpayers sign their tax returns in good faith and trust the return to be filed unchanged. Unfortunately, a growing number of fraudsters have begun altering returns to steal taxpayer dollars at the expense of their clients and taxpayers at large. This bill will help curb this illegal practice and ensure that those committing fraud face the appropriate penalties. Protecting taxpayers is something we need to continually focus on, and I am happy to work on this bipartisan legislation," said Rep. McDermott.
Paulsen, a champion of small business and advocate of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and innovation, currently serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. He is co-chair of the Congressional Medical Technology Caucus and the U.S.--Korea Free Trade Working Group.