JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The IRS is sending a serious message to criminals just as the 2013 federal tax-filing season begins -- if anyone commits tax fraud they will be investigated and prosecuted.
Federal agents announced last week they took action against nearly 400 people suspected of involvement in identity theft to commit tax fraud.
It's all part of a year-long IRS crackdown that was a result of a massive nationwide sweep targeting identity thefts in 32 states.
The effort targets thieves taking other people's information, filing a false return so they can steal the tax refund.
As tax season begins this year, the IRS wants to be clear there's a heavy price to pay for perpetrators of refund fraud.
"The IRS has identified over a million incidents of identity theft just in the last filing season," tax manager Timothy Raines said.
Last week, the IRS announced 109 arrests, 189 indictments, court complaints and information, plus 47 search warrants.
The January crackdown pushes the total number of identity theft investigations to more than 14,000 since the start of the fiscal year.
The IRS released a map on Thursday that shows the bulk of the enforcement actions on fraudulent reporting took place on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
"People filing taxes for other people, people claiming refunds that they really don't deserve or aren't theirs, under-reporting of income," Raines said.
The IRS is stepping up its effort to pursue and prevent refund fraud and identity theft, putting several new security measures in place this tax season.
"One of the things they implemented was if you're a victim of identity theft and you've notified the IRS or they've contacted you, they will provide you a very special PIN number," Raines said.
To help taxpayers, the IRS has a special section on IRS.gov on identity theft issues like how to protect yourself, YouTube videos and tips for victims.
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