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Millions saved in blocked tax fraud

State stops 39,000 identity-theft cases

– More than $78 million in wrongfully requested tax refunds was blocked by the Indiana Department of Revenue during the 2014 tax season, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

That amount includes $39 million in attempted identity theft and $39 million in unearned tax credits and deductions.

The department’s Special Investigations Unit confirmed more than 39,000 returns as attempted identity theft this year, compared with about 1,500 cases of identity theft stopped in 2013. These fraudulent returns include those in which criminals manufactured false identities with stolen elements of identity information and returns in which actual taxpayers’ identities were stolen and fraudulent refunds were requested in their names.

The department focused this year on holding criminals responsible for the identity theft and preventing them from stealing money from Indiana in the future.

The department also adjusted $39 million in inappropriately claimed tax credits and deductions. These were claimed by legitimate taxpayers on Indiana income tax returns but were not substantiated.

In these instances, taxpayers did not meet the requirements for the requested credit or deduction, so the department adjusted the tax return to the proper amount. This sometimes resulted in a refund becoming an amount still owed to the state.

Some of these adjustments were the result of taxpayers’ honest mistakes, while others may be intentional tax cheats, the release said. In these cases, additional investigations continue.

The attempted fraud through identity theft was discovered by the department’s increased security activities during the 2014 tax filing process.

Of the returns checked for verification, 95 percent of taxpayers’ information was verified, and the returns continued processing as usual.

As an additional level of protection, 30,000 taxpayers took an Identity Confirmation Quiz.

Most survey respondents said the quiz was easy and quick to take, and many expressed appreciation for the additional level of protection.

Hoosiers with questions about protecting their identities can go to the department’s Stop ID Theft website at www.in.gov/dor/4794.htm for frequently asked questions, identity protection tips, a video and additional resources.

nkelly@jg.net

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