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Nelson takes aim at prisoners seeking tax refunds

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., today released a letter he's sent to the IRS asking for information about inmates who filed false returns from federal prisons.

Nelson said today that nearly 3,000 inmates in Florida Panhandle prisons sought tax refunds last year. Nationally, prisoners received $39.1 million from false refunds, about 13 percent of the returns files, according to Nelson.

"It's pretty big money," Nelson said. Here's the letter:

March 17, 2011

Douglas H. Shulman, Commissioner
Office of the Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service
United States Department of the Treasury
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 3000
Washington, DC 20224-0002
Dear Commissioner Schulman,

I am concerned that more than eight months after Congress passed a measure to crack down on tax fraud by prison inmates at state correctional institutions, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Florida Department of Corrections have yet to reach an information-sharing agreement that will help state prison officials identify prisoners filing false tax returns.

A recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that nearly 45,000 fraudulent tax refund claims were filed in 2009 by prisoners in the United States, including 8,777 fraudulent claims by prisoners in Florida correctional institutions.  The report also found the level of tax fraud in Florida prisons was higher than in any other state.

I urge you to quickly reach an agreement with the State of Florida Department of Corrections to facilitate the sharing of inmate tax information with state prison officials, so they can begin identifying  and take action against those who file fraudulent returns.

Sincerely, Bill Nelson