While I Was Out: TIGTA Assails IRS’s ITIN Management and Did Harry Reid Violate the Law?

My vacation is over, and that’s not a good thing (for me). While I was enjoying my time off, our Congresscritters remain in a bickering mood. A close election–and this year’s presidential race will likely be one such race–means that neither side wants to give. Who cares about all those expiring tax laws at year-end, or the AMT patch….

Meanwhile, the Taxgirl (Kelly Phillips Erb) has a post regarding Senator Harry Reid’s remarks about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s taxes. A CPA is claiming that Senator Reid’s remarks are illegal. As a Nevadan, the remarks appear distasteful. IRS Commissioner Shulman, I suppose, will have to decide whether to forward the case to the Department of Justice. And given that Senator Reid is a Democrat, the chance of any prosecution is the same as it snowing today in Las Vegas (it’s 101 F right now).

Meanwhile, TIGTA (the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Adminstration) released a report that’s very critical on the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program. From the Highlights of the report:

This audit was initiated because TIGTA received IRS employee complaints referred from members of Congress alleging that IRS management responsible for overseeing the ITIN operation was encouraging employees to assign ITINs to applicants when the ITIN application was fraudulent…

TIGTA substantiated many of the allegations set forth in the IRS employees’ complaints. The complaints alleged that IRS management is not concerned with addressing questionable applications and is interested only in the volume of applications that can be processed, regardless of whether they are fraudulent.

The audit found that the ITIN application review and verification process is so deficient that there is no assurance that ITINs are not being assigned to individuals submitting questionable applications. Because of lax documentation requirements to obtain an ITIN, tax fraud can go undetected.

Ouch. This report is absolutely scathing. The IRS has “Eliminated successful processes used to identify questionable ITIN application fraud patterns and schemes.” There’s plenty more, and the entire report should be read. Reuters has a report on it, too.

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