By Jim Kouri
When President Barack Obama boasts of administration creating “green” jobs and environmental friendly projects, he’s careful not to mention something else being created: “Green Crime,” according to a public-interest group that investigates government corruption.
The same government agency that mailed millions in fraudulent tax refunds to prison inmates has been cheated out of $33 million by thousands of people who claimed tax credits for alternative and plug-in electric vehicles, according to a Judicial Watch report.
In automatically granting the bogus tax credits the Internal Revenue Service was simply following an aggressive Obama Administration plan to reward consumers who purchase the costly “advanced-technology” vehicles. The president is on a mission to get 1 million of the environmentally friendly cars on the road by 2015, according to Judicial Watch officials.
“In order to help dealers sell unpopular vehicles, the President Barack Obama and his administration are allowing law-abiding taxpayers to be swindled by a phony environmental program that invites fraud and abuse,” said political strategist Mike Baker.
As a result of Obama pushing his environmental agenda, the IRS failed to appropriately scrutinize claims, even when they clearly didn’t meet the criteria. In the first six months of 2010 alone, 20% of such federal tax credits were “erroneous,” costing U.S. taxpayers more than $33 million. Details of this latest IRS gaffe are laid out in a report released this week by the Treasury Department’s own Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The report reveals that the IRS granted the lucrative tax credit — worth up to $7,500 — to gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles and even a bicycle. Among those who cheated Uncle Sam are jail inmates and even IRS employees. Some people got multiple tax cuts for the same vehicle and 29 prisoners received nearly $50,000 in alternative vehicle credits even though they were behind bars, according to Judicial Watch.
This isn’t the first instance of convicts profiting from corrupt bureaucrats. The IRS has for more than a decade sent checks to incarcerated criminals who clearly didn’t qualify for tax refunds. In 2010 over a quarter of a million prisoners filed tax returns and nearly 50,000 claimed more than $130 million in refunds without bothering to report wage information.
In a separate report published just a few months ago — and examined by Judicial Watch — the Treasury Inspector General found that 88% of the 287,918 returns filed by prisoners in 2010 were not selected for screening by the IRS. Investigators found that the agency seldom screens the returns of those most likely to commit fraud.
“The IRS appears more interested in harassing taxpayers who play by the rules than to go after tax cheats who include members of the Obama Administration, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, or members of Congress, such as [Charlie] Rangel,” said Baker.
“And the fact that prison inmates so easily play the system should result in heads rolling at the IRS and the Obama White House,” Baker added.
Previous inspector general probes have exposed the perpetual problem over the years and the IRS has failed to act. As far back as 2005 the Treasury watchdog ordered the IRS to stop the millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds paid to prisoners. That probe determined that refund fraud committed by prisoners increased at an alarming rate of 318% from the previous year.