Tax fraud doesn’t just send people to prison; tax fraud may also be going on while they’re there. Michael Joseph, resident of the Apalachee Correctional Institution in Sneads, Florida, has been busy in prison. According to the Justice Department, Mr. Joseph filed 84 fraudulent tax returns claiming a total of $179,349.
WCTV reports that Mr. Joseph used other inmates’ names and their social security numbers to complete the tax returns. The returns all used his mother’s address. According to the indictment, Mr. Joseph was not the only person involved in the tax fraud scheme.
In 2009, Florida prisons had more inmates filing phony tax returns than any other state. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came to an agreement last year with the Florida Department of Corrections allowing them to share inmate information to fight tax fraud among inmates, but the agreement expired at the end of 2011.
Senator Bill Nelson has been fighting this problem. He has introduced legislation that, if passed, would give the IRS permanent authority to share information about tax fraud with state prison authorities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Whistleblowers are valuable to federal investigators because they provide information that is otherwise hard for the government to gain access to. Information sharing between the IRS and state and federal prison authorities would provide similar access to “inside” information and make it easier to identify and stop tax fraud.
Because their role is so important, whistleblowers are given incentives to come forward and may be entitled to share in the government’s recovery, if any. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, whistleblowers can file suit on behalf of the government as well.
Waters & Kraus is a national firm with highly skilled lawyers practicing qui tam litigation in four offices, including Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Baltimore. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully representing whistleblowers in a variety of fraud cases. Contact us or call our attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our practice and how we can assist.