The Victims of Identity Theft and Refund Fraud

Tampa, Florida criminals are still fixated on tax return fraud, a local trend that has held the attention of the IRS and law enforcement for the past several months.  I have blogged before about the criminals, but what about the victims of these schemes?  The victims are those whose social security numbers have been used to obtain false refunds and are who are blindsided by major tax problems.  When these innocent folks file their own legitimate returns and seek refunds, the IRS often denies them what is rightfully theirs.

It is reasonable for the IRS to carefully investigate these cases; they don’t want to give multiple refunds to the same taxpayer.  But the whole process for rectifying identity theft situations is flawed.

It is clear that the first step for the victim is to prepare and file a Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit,” but what happens next is a mixed bag.  Most of the complaints about the process have to do with the fact that there is no process, no consistency.  This has led one Tampa-area attorney to use a rather unconventional tactict for providing tax help to victims of identity theft.  Attorney Jim Staack has been filing class action lawsuits against the IRS on behalf of aggrieved identity theft victims.  Coincidentally (or not), the class members have received their refunds, without fail, just days after being added in the case.

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