It’s easy to feel like you’re getting robbed when paying income taxes.
Now, the IRS is making it even more likely you’ll get that special feeling: ABC News is reporting the much-beloved federal agency has granted tax preparer tax identification numbers to 331 prison inmates.
The IRS says it will suspend tax preparer identification numbers already issued to prisoners, which is comforting, but the government curbs fraud almost as well as it cuts expenses.
USA Today has reported that inmates filing false tax returns received $39 million from the IRS in 2009. Industrious inmates in Georgia, Florida and California accounted for $19 million of that.
The IRS will probably pay prisoners more than $39 million in 2012.
Why do I think that? Identity theft, the heart of the problem, happens so often police and prosecutors only bother with huge cases. A criminal ripping off a few dozen people doesn’t have much to worry about.
ABC News, in a separate story, says identity theft has doubled since 2008. More than 8 million Americans were victimized by ID theft in 2010, but only 412 cases have been prosecuted by the IRS since 2007.
Local investigators don’t get much help from the feds — it is against the law for the IRS to share information on a tax return with anyone, including the police.
In the 1930s, Dick Tracy foolishly said “Crime does not pay.” How quaint.