The IRS responded today to U.S. Senator Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) August letter by announcing an expansion of a pilot program to allow local law enforcement in eight states, including Pennsylvania, to go after perpetrators of tax fraud.
Sen. Toomey contacted the IRS after Pennsylvania law enforcement officials notified him of a new trend in tax fraud whereby fraudulent tax returns were filed using legitimate Social Security numbers to generate improper tax refunds. In his letter, Sen. Toomey asked the IRS to explain how the department is addressing this form of tax fraud in Pennsylvania.
Under the current system, the IRS could not work with local law enforcement officials since taxpayer information is confidential. The IRS's pilot program however, will ask tax fraud victims to fill out a form giving the IRS permission to work with local law enforcement and share a limited amount of taxpayer data in order to target identity thieves.
"I am so pleased the IRS will now be able to coordinate with local law enforcement officials to more aggressively pursue perpetrators of tax fraud," Sen. Toomey said. "Clearly, any kind of tax fraud is a waste of taxpayer dollars and must be stopped. I am grateful to local officials for bringing this critical issue to my attention, and I hope the IRS will use this step forward to crack down on all forms of tax fraud."
District attorneys across southeastern Pennsylvania thanked Sen. Toomey for his efforts to curb tax fraud:
"My office is currently investigating this kind of tax fraud in Chester County. I support Sen. Toomey's efforts and hope the IRS will help crack down on this fraud soon," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.
"I am grateful to Sen. Toomey for his leadership in protecting taxpayers and crime victims by compelling the IRS to actually investigate tax fraud and identity theft occurring in our communities. Law enforcement officers and crime victims in Montgomery County have been frustrated by the utter failure of the IRS to investigate reports of criminal activity or to share information with local police which would allow them to investigate, arrest, and prosecute offenders. In far too many cases, the IRS has failed to act upon reports of criminal identity theft, leaving victims to bear the consequences of crimes committed against them and allowing scam artists and crooks to steal our tax dollars. Sen. Toomey's efforts to protect taxpayers and crime victims are most appreciated," said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.
"Pennsylvania prosecutors support Sen. Toomey's efforts to focus the IRS on this type of tax fraud, which costs our municipalities and our state millions," said Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
"Based upon intelligence gathered by local law enforcement agencies in Berks County, tax fraud has become the single most profitable scam taking place in our jurisdiction. What's even more troubling is that the money that is being stolen could be used to fund our schools and countless other projects. We believe that the IRS must act now to stop this fraud, and we thank Sen. Toomey for his attention to this very important problem," said Berks County District Attorney John Adams.
"Tax fraud has been a huge problem locally that has cost federal, state and local governments millions of dollars. In this age of technology, surely there is a relatively easy fix to this problem. I urge the IRS to act expeditiously to end this crime," said Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin.