POSTED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 4:12pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 8:31am
McAllen, TX (NEWS CENTER 23) — For potentially millions of taxpayers their tax filing process won't go well, that's because tax identity theft is on the rise.
Virtually unheard of just a few years ago, tax fraud is exploding and the total cost is more than 5-billion dollars.
Irma Treviño is a spokeswoman for the IRS, she says, "The IRS is working very hard to stop the identity theft in refund fraud. "
This includes a big one which is claiming dependents that don't belong to you and claiming illegitimate write offs to create a higher tax return refund, however the IRS is sending a warning:
"Identity theft and refund fraud is a very serious issue...but the perpetrators are paying the price, now we have screen filters in place in our systems so we can detect identity theft and refund fraud," says Treviño.
The Justice Department's Tax Division, normally focuses on things like offshore tax evasion, but now identity theft is a top priority: "It is a big issue for the IRS that is why they have done a massive crackdown on identity theft in recent weeks, " Treviño said.
Meanwhile, for those attending college the IRS also says to pay close attention when it comes to education credit write offs, the credit only applies to those receiving loans or paying out of pocket, so if you're receiving some type of grant or scholarship, you're not eligible.
If you made less than $57,000 last year, you may be eligible to file your taxes for free. The IRS provides a free file tax software on their website which is IRS.GOV
Many questions can arise during tax season, that is why IRS encourages you to seek tax assistance from a tax professional near your area if you are having difficulties.