Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,2 April 2013

The Snap:

Less than 2 weeks ‘til accountants can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Do you think they have some massive kegger where instead of photocopying their asses, they copy the tax code and draw raunchy cartoons all over it? I hope not because the tax code is like 4 million words and accountants should care more about the environment than to recklessly use that much paper. Anyway, even though it’s not 15 April yet, it may already be too late for you to file. That’s if you’re among the growing number of Americans whose identities are stolen. Each year the IRS pays out approximately $5 billion in fraudulent claims. This isn’t just from some crazy government coffers; this is money that is stolen from individual taxpayers and that can take them months or even years to get back.

The Download:

I got to be honest with you: identity theft scares the bejeezus out of me. It pretty much rules your entire existence until you get it cleared up. The scariest part is that it seems so ridiculously easy to do. People are running massive tax fraud schemes from all over the country, including from jail cells.  The IRS ends up sending multiple returns to the same address without wondering why the numbers entered for W-2 and other fields look insane and why the same house gets dozens of refunds.

I was already terrified of identity theft but then Brian Williams (one of my news crushes and ranking above Ky Risdall but below Richard Engel) made me nearly hyperventilate with anxiety over the possibility that my tax refund could be in the hot little hands of some identity-stealing assmonkey and that there was nothing I could do about it. After years of increasing tax fraud schemes, the IRS seems to finally be taking this a little more seriously and is working with law enforcement to investigate people suspected of tax fraud. But for the people who have their refunds stolen, it is often too little and too late.

Here’s a suggestion for Congress. Instead of holding countless press conferences about government waste and abuse, nominating ridiculous bills that you know are insane and will not make it through either chamber, and wasting taxpayer time and money on reelection bids…wait, where was I? I got so riled up about Congress I sort of lost my steam. Anyway, Congress, why don’t you make the tax code less insane and put more time into reforming how taxes are collected and managed? And why don’t you help the IRS figure out how to make it harder for a fraudster to assume a taxpayer’s identity than you make it for the taxpayer to prove who they are. I know it’s only $5 billion a year (something like .03% of the national debt) but that sort of thing adds up over time.

Hat Tips:

Forbes, NBC News, SCTimes, Tampa Tribune, New York Times, Washington Post, Image Credit: Flickr

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