The public relations department at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must like lists. Or, maybe they’re a fan of David Letterman. Shortly after issuing its annual and repetitive dirty dozen tax scams list, the IRS has recently released, not one; but two sets of top ten lists.
The first IRS top ten list was issued in the beginning of March and is really just a public shaming of identity thieves that have been convicted of related tax crimes. The list is described as the top ten identity theft prosecutions for 2014 that represent the seriousness of identity theft tax crimes and the magnitude of the consequences that will be faced by those who victimize honest taxpayers and steal from hard-working Americans. The IRS sometimes uses public shaming as a tool to scare the public into compliance with tax laws. With the recent prevalence of tax scams by identity thieves, the list is well timed. However, the list itself doesn’t appear to be in any particular order.
After the IRS lists and shortly describes its top ten convictions for 2014, it then touts some statistics. In fiscal year 2014, it initiated 1,063 identity theft related investigations resulting in 748 sentencings, an increase of 75 percent compared to fiscal year 2013. According to the data provided by the IRS, the incarceration rate rose 7.1 percent in 2014 to 87.7 percent. The courts also imposed more jail time in 2014, with the average months of those being sentenced rising to 43 months as compared to 38 months in 2013.
The second IRS top ten list in March was a series of tax tips for the current filing season. Similar to the dirty dozen tax scams list released earlier this year, the IRS decided issue just one tax tip per day. Thereby prolonging the release of the information over time, rather than sharing all of its brilliant tax knowledge just once.
This series of tax tips are called the “Tax Time Guide” and are surprisingly useful for the common taxpayer. The series and topics are boasted to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues as tax day 2015 approaches.
However, I don’t believe there was really a need to extend the release of these broad tax tips over ten days as there no need to have people “tune-in” daily to the IRS website. As a side note, the IRS reports that visits to the IRS website are up this year. Perhaps people really were waiting each day to be spoon-fed a new daily tax tip.
While there are no ultra-secret tax tips provided in the Tax Time Guide series, the information is broad enough to apply to most taxpayers. It also has some sprinkles of information that keeps up with recent changes in the tax laws and taxpayer resources that are available for the current tax season.
Hopefully you didn’t file your tax return the day before the tax tip you needed to save you some money was published.
This article is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.