Identity theft can be a devastating experience that can turn a person’s life upside down. In an effort to combat identity theft and financial crimes in general, the IRS Criminal Investigation examines possible criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes, including fraud related to identity theft. Each year, the Criminal Investigation gathers and releases statistics on the number of investigations initiated, prosecution recommendations, indictments or informations, and convictions as well as the incarceration rate and average number of months sentenced to serve. For the fiscal year ending September 2015, there were 3,853 investigations initiated, 3,289 prosecution recommendations, 3,208 indictments or informations, and 2,879 convictions. For identity theft investigations in particular, the statistics were as follows: 776 investigations initiated, 774 prosecution recommendations, 732 indictments or informations, and 790 sentencings. The incarceration rate for identity theft related crimes was 84.6% and the average number of months sentenced to serve was 38.
To help victims of identity theft resolve their cases, the IRS recently changed its former policy of refusing to provide copies of fraudulently filed tax returns. Recognizing a victim’s need to figure out just what personal financial information was stolen and how it was used, the IRS now allows taxpayers to acquire copies of tax returns filed fraudulently under their social security numbers. In order to request a copy of a fraudulent return, however, there are strict requirements that need to be met. One of the requirements is that the victim’s name and social security number must be listed as the primary or secondary taxpayer on the return; dependents cannot make requests. In addition, the underlying fraud case must have been settled by the IRS at the time of request. Finally, the copy of the fraudulent return will be redacted to conceal any information that might be related to additional possible victims. For more information on requesting copies of fraudulent returns, go to the IRS website.
There are many things you can do to protect yourself against identity theft. Here are some helpful tips that are listed on the IRS website:
I recently had a chance to visit the Nevada Museum of Art’s Lake Tahoe exhibit and I have to say, I was blown away by the number of historical art pieces the museum had on display depicting Lake Tahoe during a time that few people today can remember. The museum suggests guests start off on the third floor in order to begin with the earliest paintings working your way towards the present time. I highly suggest taking the museum up on this suggestion as it allows you to view the changes that have taken place in the Lake Tahoe Basin since the late 1800’s. While the art on display does not go back much further than the 1800’s, most changes in that area did not really occur until the twentieth century and thus it does not take away from the historical representation of the changes that have occurred in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Starting on the third floor guests are introduced to some of the early paintings depicting the beauty of Lake Tahoe. Artists on this floor include Thomas Hill, John C. Fremont, Mark Twain, John Muir and many more. Not only does the gallery give you a visual representation through the paintings of these artists, but the museum has explanations of what was going on in the painting, as well as, during that particular time period. These explanations present a logical flow to the exhibit which, if you take the suggested route, allows the visitor to fully understand the changes that took place around our beloved lake. Another great representation on the third floor is that of the Washoe Indians basketry which showed amazing woven baskets from the early Nevada years. The detail in some of the baskets is remarkable and they have held up to the test of time as they still look as though they are in excellent condition.
The second floor introduces guests to the time that the museum has dubbed as the rise of the resort. This level depicts the vast changes that Lake Tahoe underwent during the twentieth century, and even includes a thirty minute documentary explaining what went on during this period. Artists on this level include Frank Lloyd Wright, Maynard Dixon, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, as well as others. It still amazes me that structures built during this period can still be visited today and that these structures have remained despite the harsh winters that often occur in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first floor of the museum has a few of the items depicted in the exhibit for sale in the gift shop where if you really would like to take the exhibit home with you, you can purchase a few of the Washoe Indian baskets to bring the past home with you. This exhibit has been executed very well and I will definitely be returning one more time, at least, before the exhibit changes in mid January.