TAMPA — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's first bill for the 113th Congress is aimed at tax fraud.
Announcing her plans Monday alongside Tampa police and identity fraud investigators, the Tampa-based Democrat vowed to push the Internal Revenue Service to put more safeguards in place to stop thieves from using others' personal information to file fake returns.
Her bill also would increase the fines for those caught committing tax fraud.
"We've got to increase the penalties," Castor said at a news conference. "And (the IRS) has got to initiate the filters and screens that prevent these fraudulent returns from being filed."
Tax filing season started last week and authorities are bracing for an onslaught of fraudulent returns, especially in the Tampa Bay area, which has been a hot spot for this type of identity theft in recent years.
Castor and U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Spring Hill, introduced a similar bill last year, and though it did not pass, Castor saw the IRS voluntarily implement some of her objectives, including the IRS' willingness to share some information with local law enforcement to aid in their investigations.
This bill would put those changes into law and add a few more, including a required study of the role prepaid debit cards and tax preparation software play in tax fraud.
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.