As we recently noted, the Internal Revenue Service has been handing out money to people not entitled to receive any of it. Long Island resident Carol Cooke, for example, received tax refunds for thousands of dollars, all to people who did not live at her residence. This was obvious fraud, but when Cooke contacted the IRS they gave her the runaround. This was not an isolated case. A full 23,994 tax refunds were sent to a single address in Atlanta, including 8,393 refunds deposited to a single bank. Top destinations for fake refunds include Miami, Chicago, Detroit and Houston. But it doesn’t stop there. The fraud is diverse and multicultural.
Last year the IRS sent some $3.6 billion in fraudulent tax refunds to people using stolen identities, down from $5.2 billion in 2011. According to one report the IRS sent 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and 343 refunds went to one address in Shanghai, in the People’s Republic of China. All told, the IRS issued 1.1 million refunds based on stolen Social Security Numbers, and paid out $385 million in 141,000 refunds based on stolen taxpayer identification numbers. As the president might have put it, if you like your fraudulent refund you can keep it, period.
All this money comes from embattled U.S. taxpayers. A statement from the IRS says it takes the fraud issue “very seriously.” That adds insult to injury because the agency’s “comprehensive and aggressive identity theft strategy” does not appear to be working. By all indications, no IRS executives have been fired for sending billions to identity thieves.
This is the same agency whose bosses shrugged off the abuse of those seeking non-profit status as “horrible customer service.” The “Service” that fails miserably at its duly appointed tasks also engaged in a regulatory power grab so it could implement Obamacare, another unalloyed disaster for American taxpayers. As Michael Gerson of the Washington Post observed, “the largest tax law and social policy change in a generation will be imposed on a skeptical public by a government agency whose credibility is in ruins.”
But as the president might put it, if you like your job with the IRS you can keep it, regardless of performance. Period.