Nelson Tries to Curb Inmate Tax Fraud; Senator Hopes IRS Enforces 2008 Law to Avoid Future False Returns

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Byline: JUSTIN SACHAROFF

Florida holds the distinction of having the highest amount of prisoner tax fraud in the nation, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

North Florida, especially, is a hot bed for this type of tax fraud.

In 2009 there were 2,407 false returns filed by prison inmates in Northeast Florida alone, Nelson's office said.

Nelson, D-Fla., was in Jacksonville on Friday to speak about efforts to curb this growing issue.

Nelson's main focus toward ending prisoner tax fraud is a law already in place that gives the Internal Revenue Service the ability to give inmates' financial information to federal prisons.

The law, The Inmate Tax Fraud Prevention Act, was passed in 2008 and last year was amended to include state facilities. But the IRS has yet to enforce that amendment, Nelson's office said.

"They're afraid of getting sued," said Dan McLaughlin, the senator's communications director.

In an letter to the commissioner of the IRS, Nelson urged greater cooperation with the government.

"I am concerned that more than eight months after Congress passed a measure to crack down on tax fraud by prison inmates at state correctional institutions, the Internal Revenue Service and Florida Department of Corrections have yet to reach an information-sharing agreement that will help state prison officials identify prisoners filing false tax returns."

According to The Associated Press, the IRS and Bureau of Prisons say they are working to eliminate gaps in enforcement. …

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