The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit is reportedly suffering from a great deal of fraud. Two days ago WebCPA reported that $9.1 million went to 1,295 prisoners. CNN reported that a total of 4,608 inmates filed for the credit.
I get that people in prison are probably not the most likely to be completely honest. While I’m upset that millions of government dollars went to convicts who filed fraudulent claims, I’m not too terribly surprised that they attempted the fraud in the first place.
But things didn’t stop there. Here are some other choice findings:
The report found that the IRS awarded $17.6 million to 2,555 filers who had bought their homes before the credit program kicked in.
The inspector general also identified 206 filers who claimed the credit for multiple addresses; these fraudulent filers were awarded a total of $1.4 million.
The report also found that improper filers included 34 employees of the IRS. This is in addition to 53 IRS employees that the inspector general identified last year as improper filers.
Then there are people trying to fudge the date requirements:
To claim the credit, buyers had to sign contracts by April 30 and close the sales by June 30. But real estate agents say some buyers are demanding quick closing dates to meet the June 30 deadline, even though they failed to meet the April 30 deadline.
And lying about housing:
In its new report, TIGTA found that 10,282 taxpayers received credits for homes that were also used by other taxpayers to claim the credit. In one case, TIGTA found that 67 taxpayers were using the same home to claim the credit.
This wasn’t limited to just run of the mill people either, employees of the IRS where trying to exploit the system:
Some of the improper payments involve IRS employees, TIGTA found. At least 34 IRS employees claimed the credit despite indications that they owned a home within the past three years. This is in addition to the 53 IRS employees that TIGTA identified in August 2009
All of this after the other fraud problems reported on in October 2009:
TIGTA’s report found that 19,351 taxpayers claimed $139.4 million in credits for homes they had not yet purchased, but would allegedly purchase in the future. In addition, 70,005 taxpayers claimed more than $479 million in credits, despite indications that they were not first-time homebuyers. TIGTA also identified 582 taxpayers under 18 years of age who claimed almost $4 million in First-Time Homebuyer Credits. The youngest taxpayers receiving the credit were four years old.
I’m disappointed that so many invalid claims weren’t caught by the IRS. But that isn’t what I’m most upset about. I’m most upset at the people of this country who thought it would be a good idea to defraud the federal government. What happened to dignity and honesty? No system or series of laws and regulations will ever be perfect, it is up to each one of us to live to a higher standard of decency and respect. How can we complain about the abuse of power by those who lead us, when that same abuse is still common place among our people?
This has caused me to pause and re-evaluate where I can be better, more honest and upright in my dealings, not just the government, but all those around me.