Ohio Department of Taxation combating fraudulent claims


Earlier this year, many Ohio taxpayers complained when they were required to take a quiz to prove their identities in order to receive their income tax refund. Several of the questions included in the quiz, however, were obscure or went back as far as 20 years for information. Taxpayer complaints resulted in changes to, but not the elimination of, the quizzes. According to the Department of Taxation, an increasing number of fraudulent refund claims necessitated this inconvenient step of the filing process.

The importance of identity theft protection, especially when filing tax returns, came to light with the Department of Taxation’s recent announcement of a Youngstown man’s convection. Marcus Pearson faces eight felony counts including theft, tampering with records, telecommunications fraud and identity theft — all of which are based on his attempt to file fraudulent state income tax returns.

According to Gongwer, Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said in a statement: “Ohio is not alone in being attacked by criminals using stolen IDs and sophisticated electronic schemes to file fraudulent tax returns and abscond with tax refunds. Wherever and whenever we can, we will pursue these tax fraud thieves and push to impose the maximum penalty available in the criminal justice arena.”

The department revealed that in 2015, more than 168,000 fraudulent returns were intercepted and more $160 million in illegitimate tax refunds were prevented. In 2014 and 2015 combined, $437 million dollars in attempted tax fraud was blocked.

Ohio’s experience mirrors that of the Internal Revenue Service, where potentially fraudulent income tax refund claims may have cost the federal government more than $3.6 billion in 2013. The IRS issued its Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013, the most recent year for which information is available. 

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