I was excited to hear there is a bipartisan effort afoot in Congress to accomplish something of major import before the election. The Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting (STOP) Identity Theft Act (HR 4362) was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). It sailed through the House of Representatives. The goal: stop identity theft, particularly when it is employed to steal tax refunds.
The IRS is getting hoodwinked by identity thieves 1.5 million times a year. Using stolen identities, these criminals are filing fraudulent tax returns, reaping more than $5.2 billion every year in stolen taxpayer money. Treasury estimates that the IRS could issue $21 billion to identity thieves over the next five years. Place your pinkie to the side of your mouth and say, "Twenty-one BILLION dollars." For those of you who are more visual, that's $21,000,000,000. Still need help? Consider the following:
1. That's enough money to fund NASA for a year, with $2 billion to spare.
2. The IRS is losing enough money to maintain our nuclear stockpile for three years, or fight nuclear proliferation around the world for ten years.
3. The total "take" here is enough money to fund up to 20 years worth of loan guarantees for efficient, renewable energy projects.
4. Enough money is flowing into those accounts to fund the Federal Highway Administration for more than 20 years.
5. Taxpayers are being defrauded of enough money to fund the entire Food and Drug Administration for almost five years.
6. This is enough cash to fund five and a half years' worth of Homeland Security disaster preparedness grants to states and local communities.
7...These thieves are cyclically robbing the nation of ten years' worth of funding for federal weather satellites...
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