The Arizona Department of Revenue stopped more than $31.8 million dollars in fraudulent refunds from being sent out in the last fiscal year, the department reported Wednesday.
The department targeted a type of fraud where "individuals file false income tax returns using stolen or fictitious taxpayer information."
Last fiscal year, the department stopped about $9 million in this type of fraud.
Anthony Forschino, assistant director for the Department of Revenue in charge of criminal investigations, attributed the increase to enhancements to the department’s computer programs along with additional training of auditors and investigators.
The department states electronic filing, "made it possible for crooks from anywhere in the world to file hundreds and even thousands of false income tax returns in all income taxing jurisdictions."
“This problem is not limited to Arizona. The IRS believes in tax year 2012 it paid out at least $5.2 billion in fraudulent refunds and projects it will pay about $21 billion in fraudulent refunds over the next 5 years, even with improvements in IRS systems and processes designed to detect fraudulent returns” said Department of Revenue Director John Greene. Greene also said “this type of tax fraud amounts to stealing taxpayer money from the state’s general fund. We are committed to do everything possible to combat this kind of crime."