More than 100 workers filed claims
The Washington Times Monday, May 23, 2011
More than 100 employees of the Internal Revenue Service cheated the government by fraudulently claiming a first-time homebuyer tax credit included in the 2008 and 2009 economic stimulus packages, according to federal investigators.
The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, in several reports over the past few years, has identified a total of 128 IRS employees who claimed the credit but who also made other claims that showed they either weren't first-time buyers or bought their homes outside the eligibility period for the credit, which was worth up to $8,000.
Meanwhile, one other IRS employee has been charged with using her position to try to help friends and relatives take advantage of the credit, which was signed by President Bush and then boosted under President Obama's 2009 stimulus law.
The IRS employees represented a small part of the total fraud in the program, which the inspector general said may have totaled more than a half-billion dollars overall. The inspector general said refundable tax credits, which transfer money back to taxpayers even when their tax liability is zero, "are targets for fraud."
Members of Congress who have oversight over the IRS said it's particularly egregious when the employees are caught cheating.
"It is incomprehensible that this many IRS employees improperly claimed the homebuyer tax credit," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. "These are the very people who are supposed to fairly enforce our tax laws, but seem to instead be taking advantage of that expertise for their own personal benefit."
Asked for comment, the IRS requested that The Washington Times submit questions in writing, which The Times did.
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