Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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IRS to increase focus on false tax returns

Filing and paying taxes is likely on most Georgia residents' most-hated list. It is time-consuming and frustrating, to say the least, and there is the risk of doing it wrong and being audited. For some people, tax season and the time after may become even worse if they are accused of filing fraudulent returns. The number of fraudulent returns has been growing, which has spurred the IRS to take action to do a better job identifying these fraudulent returns.

Early this month, a House Oversight and Government Reform operations subcommittee focused on the issue of tax fraud and identity theft, urging the IRS to step up its efforts. Apparently, the number of taxpayer identity theft cases, which involves filing a fake tax return in someone else's name in order to collect the refund, has increased from 1 million to 1.9 million in the last two years. A "comprehensive strategy" focused on detection and enforcement was discussed, as well as other ideas for how to address the problem. Georgia has been implementing a program focused on cutting the number of fraudulent returns and has had some success.

There are many different kinds of tax violations that can land Georgia residents in significant trouble. Tax evasion is one of the simplest and most frequent charges, which involves avoiding reporting income to lower a tax bill. Tax evasion can be accomplished through something as simple as failing to report proceeds during a short time period or using an offshore account to hide money. As described in this story, filing a false tax return can involve filing a return under someone else's name, as well as filing a return with false information.

The penalties for tax crimes are often very serious and can include jail time of several years and hefty fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although some people may find themselves facing criminal tax charges as a result of their own actions, others may find themselves under IRS scrutiny or investigation as a result of others' actions despite no wrongdoing themselves. Regardless of the exact circumstances of each case, the experience of a seasoned tax crimes attorney can be critical in helping Georgia residents defend against these harmful charges and get their lives back on track.

Source: Government Executive, "IRS Told to Do More to Curb Identity Theft Fraud 'Epidemic,'" Charles S. Clark, Aug. 5, 2013

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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