The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not stop felons from preparing tax returns, according to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
Tax return preparers are required to register with the IRS to get a preparer tax identification number before they can prepare any tax returns. In order to do so, they must apply and provide personal information such as their Social Security number, information about their business, professional credentials and whether or not they have had any past felony convictions.
The audit found that in 2014 and 2015, the IRS did not perform compliance checks on tax return preparers and didn’t revoke their preparer ID number when they violated the law. The IG found that there were 19,496 preparers who were noncompliant with tax filing and payment obligations.
There were 3,001 preparers who self-reported a felony conviction on their application, including the preparation of false tax returns, drug possession, and mortgage fraud.
The IRS did not revoke preparer ID numbers for 15 percent of confirmed prisoners or 17 percent of those individuals who were identified as being permanently barred from preparing tax returns.
The IG found six prisoners who obtained a preparer tax ID number. Combined, they prepared 829 tax returns with refunds totaling more than $2.5 million.