As many taxpayers gather their financial documents to do their tax returns, a number of unlucky filers are finding that someone else has already filed in their name — and walked away with their refunds.
For the 12th year in a row, identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2011, with nearly 280,000 complaints, according to a report released on Tuesday. And a bigger chunk of those cases is tax related, with 24% of identity theft complaints being tied to tax or wage-related fraud, up from about 15% in 2010, according to the FTC.
For some victims, the fraud isn’t discovered until they hit the send button on their electronic tax returns — and get a rejection note from the IRS. Other times it takes a little longer to know something is wrong, such as not receiving a refund check. You might also receive an IRS letter saying the income reported doesn’t match their records — a sign someone else could be using that Social Security number.
The Tax Blog brings together a team of award-winning tax journalists from the Dow Jones network and around the web to examine the tax issues, changes and legislation that affect families, investors and small business owners. Our contributors include Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders (WSJ), Tax Guy columnist Bill Bischoff and senior reporter Jilian Mincer (SmartMoney.com), retirement-focused reporter Anne Tergesen (WSJ), wealth management writer Arden Dale (Dow Jones Newswires), TaxWatch columnist Eva Rosenberg and personal finance reporter Andrea Coombes (MarketWatch), and reporter Alyssa Abkowitz (SmartMoney). They’ll provide the latest news and insight, mine the tax code for tips and loopholes, and answer your questions about tricky tax situations. Contact the The Tax Blog with ideas, suggestions or tax questions at email@example.com.