3:21 PM, Nov 12, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported last week that in 2011, the IRS paid out $3.6 billion in fraudulent refunds on tax returns filed by identity thieves. Even that amount was an improvement over the previous year when the total fraud was $5.2 billion. However, on Tuesday, TIGTA released a new report that found that though the IRS is making some progress against fraud, it is not using all available tools to prevent erroneous refunds and improper tax credits.
In 2007, the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act amended the IRS code to increase the agency's ability to penalize taxpayers who claim excessive tax credits or refunds. A recent audit, however, found that the IRS has not properly implemented the law, and is following up in only a fraction of the cases where action may be warranted [emphasis added]:
TIGTA found that the IRS incorrectly interpreted the erroneous refund penalty law, which significantly limited the types of erroneous tax refund or credit claims to which the penalty would apply. The IRS assessed only 84 erroneous refund penalties totaling $1.9 million between May 2007 and May 2012...
[I]n the year after the IRS revised its interpretation of the law (June 3, 2012, through May 25, 2013), there were 709,123 individual tax credits disallowed by Campus Operations for which the IRS could have potentially assessed erroneous refund penalties totaling more than $1.5 billion.
The inspector general found no legitimate reason for the IRS's neglect of the law:
“I am troubled that even though the IRS has revised its interpretation of this law, it has still failed to establish processes to assess penalties on the majority of disallowed tax credit claims,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Taxpayers who seek refunds or credit claims that have no reasonable basis in law must be penalized, for they create unnecessary burden on both the IRS and the American people by straining resources and impeding tax administration.”
In response to the findings, IRS management "raised concerns about the costs and benefits of establishing processes and procedures... to assess erroneous refund penalties," but did not support these concerns with documentation or analysis.
8:01 AM, Oct 22, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
"Bullying doesn't just happen on the playground," so begins an article in an online Health and Human Services (HHS) publication called Let's Talk.
There is nothing in the middle.1:31 PM, Oct 11, 2013 • By JAY COST
The findings of the newly released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll are simply brutal for congressional Republicans. Not only are they getting the lion's share of the blame for the government shutdown, but President Obama's numbers have actually improved. Worse, Obamacare's numbers are improving, as well.
Oct 21, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 07 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Last month, Angel Echevarria, an off-duty Department of Homeland Security official, was arrested in Florida for pulling his gun and shooting a car that allegedly cut him off on the highway. According to police, Echevarria had absolutely no legal authority to do this. The episode was a classic “road rage” incident, and Echevarria is lucky he didn’t harm any of the passengers in the car, which included a 2-year-old child.
8:14 AM, Sep 20, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
In 2009, the Obama administration made news with an $18 million, five year contract to redesign Recovery.gov, the website the government set up to allow taxpayers to track the stimulus spending enacted by the president and Congress soon after President Obama took office.
8:44 AM, Aug 29, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The state of Alabama received bonus payments from Medicaid for 2009 and 2010 that were a stunning 13 times higher than the state was eligible for. So says the inspector general (IG) for Health and Human Services in a report released on Wednesday.
Food stamp trafficking a record $858M in 20117:58 AM, Aug 16, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on Thursday regarding illegal trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. The report showed that the rate of trafficking rose from 1 percent of total benefits in the last study period of 2006-2008 to 1.3 percent in the current study period of 2009-2011, an increase of 30 percent. The report noted the trafficking rate remains well below a rate of almost 4 percent that existed for much of the 1990s. The rate plunged to 1 percent by the 2002-2005 study period and remained there until the current report:
3:20 PM, Jul 31, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A strange story today via a Portland, Oregon police press release: NBA Houston Rockets player Terrence Alexander Jones was arrested early this morning after allegedly stomping on a homeless man's leg:
7:02 AM, Jul 16, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Despite an admission by the Department of Transportation (DOT) that the Federal-aid Highway Programs under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are "susceptible to significant improper payments," the DOT Inspector General (IG) has terminated an audit initiated in April "due to other higher priority work demands."
1:50 PM, Jul 8, 2013 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA
On Friday, the Obama administration dropped another health care implementation bombshell.
1:26 PM, Jun 18, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There is a lot in the farm bill not to like, which makes it like every farm bill of the last half century.
Every picture tells a story.9:16 PM, Apr 19, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
The 411,618 square foot Solyndra building in Fremont, California has been put on the market:
4:28 PM, Apr 18, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
A clown and mindreader stood in front of Senate office buildings, passing out their resumes to employees of the Government Services Administration (GSA), who were on Capitol Hill to testify, and asking the embattled government bureaucrats for jobs.
11:33 AM, Apr 17, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
In times past, government "service" was the career choice for people who didn't really believe in fun. Or had never had much practice at it, anyway. The federal bureaucrat, back then, dressed gray and thought in columns of figures. The kind with many, many zeroes. Washington, D.C., in those days, was a dreary town famously described by John F. Kennedy as a place of "Northern charm and Southern efficiency."