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Whistleblower Says IRS Managers Ignored Illegal-Alien ITIN Fraud

In WTHR’s latest report on Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) abuse and fraud, the Indianapolis NBC affiliate discussed revelations brought forward by an IRS whistleblower - "We were being told by upper management to ignore fraud, to assign ITIN numbers and...pay out refunds to people who are lying…It's a license to steal when you allow that."

Howard Antelis, a tax examiner at the IRS's ITIN processing center in Texas, contacted WTHR after seeing its series on ITIN fraud. He and other tax examiners said that IRS managers, for years, instructed them to "look the other way" while processing ITIN applications that appear to be fraudulent – even if they contain clear signs of criminal activity.

One time, Howard decided to investigate ITIN applications for dozens of children attending the same school in South Carolina. (Adult tax filers can request an ITIN for a child in order to get child tax credits and a larger tax refund.) He discovered the school didn't exist, but his bosses ordered him to approve the scam applications anyway.

Howard said, "We're tax examiners but the truth is we're not supposed to look into anything…It's like an assembly line…Get it out of here and don't worry about the fraud. Fraud slows us down…We're supposed to protect taxpayers, so somebody had to say something." He decided to call the Inspector General's office in Washington, D.C.

The IG's office sent auditors to interview Howard and other tax examiners. They learned that IRS employees were actually encouraged to ignore signs of fraud. The final report on the investigation, which took over a year, will be released this summer. It's expected to show that millions of illegal aliens can get ITINs by filing fraudulent paperwork.

"It's pure negligence by management and they've been trying to keep it quiet," Howard said. "There is a criminal element that is defrauding the U.S. government by filing mountains and mountains of these fraudulent applications…[The IRS managers] don't want to deal with it. That's where all the fraud is. The fraud is in the fake notary stamps and fake documents which we've been accepting…There is a state-by-state list of notaries that shows which are registered and legitimate, but the IRS won't let us check those registries."

After WTHR first reported on ITIN mismanagement and fraud, the IRS sent senior officials to investigate the ITIN processing center. WTHR says this has led to tax examiners getting more training on identifying fraudulent paperwork and equipment to help them better inspect documents. Also, illegal aliens must now prove their identity through original, certified documents.

Howard’s revelations did not come without a cost to him personally. The IRS dropped his job performance rating, which affects his paycheck. The IRS claimed his job performance dropped from "exceeds fully successful" to "minimally successful." Still, Howard wants to continue his fight for ITIN reform. "I just want to see things fixed. We've been allowing the U.S. taxpayer to get robbed for years now and those days appear to be over."

Read here for more information.

In the News

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The Arkansas attorney general's office has cleared the way for signature-gathering by supporters of a proposed ballot measure requiring government agencies to verify that all those seeking public benefits in the state are legal U.S. residents.

By Andrew DeMillo -- Associated Press

http://www.wreg.com/sns-ap-ar--illegalimmigrants-arkansas,0,4817822.story

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In the News - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Even though E-Verify has been postponed until September of this year, one California company heeded the government’s warning and put all their employees through the verification process.

A Vernon, California food processing and packaging company, Overhill Farms, Inc. fired 260 workers who had given the company fraudulent Social Security numbers. The company found in a recent Internal Revenue Services audit that approximately 260 employees’ social security numbers were invalid.

San Diego Examiner

http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner~y2009m6d17-EVerify-vilified-as-California-company-fires-260-undocumented-workers

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In the News - Friday, May 22, 2009

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http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/05/21/20090521immig-police0521-ON.html

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In the News - Thursday, May 14, 2009

E-Verify is an effective way to attack the jobs magnet for illegal immigrants, said Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, which favors stricter controls on immigration. Beck said he hoped the increase in funding would result in more employers signing up.

"If there aren't jobs, they stop coming," he said. "We would rather solve the immigration problems not with people wearing uniforms and guns but simply with papers, just running someone through the computer."

By Anna Gorman - Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-everify14-2009may14,0,7963143.story

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In the News - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Margaret Heintz sputtered in frustration.

"There's nothing we can do," the Marshalltown, Iowa, woman said to her daughter, Mona Kilborn, when they talked about their shared point of aggravation -- illegal immigrants.

"Mom, you can do something," Kilborn said. "You can write your congressman. I'll even get you the address."

So in September 2007, the 90-year-old Heintz put pen to paper for her first letter to a politician. Two weeks later, she died at the hands of an illegal immigrant.

"Ironic, isn't it?" Kilborn said. "This one issue, it's changed our lives forever....""

Bekah Porter, (Dubuque, IA) Telegraph Herald, 13 May 2009

http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=243128

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Colorado state Sen. Ted Harvey said he wasn't surprised to learn that a key vote on a bill to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants had been rescheduled after he went out of town to care for an Alzheimer's-afflicted relative in deteriorating health.

Mr. Harvey, a Republican, had planned to vote against Senate Bill 170 when it came up at the Friday committee hearing. After Mr. Harvey flew to Florida on Tuesday morning, however, Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee moved up the vote to Wednesday.

By Valerie Richardson -- Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/03/senator-not-surprised-illegals-bill-vote/

Md. schools forbid illegals head count

In the News - Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"The Maryland State Board of Education on Tuesday said Frederick County officials are prohibited by federal law from seeking a count of how many illegal immigrants are in the county school system....

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Mark Chenoweth, Washington Times, March 25, 2009

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/25/maryland-wont-allow-counting-of-illegals/

Montgomery County, Md. Proposes Changes to Immigration Policy

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By Joe Slaninka - Montgomery (Md.) County Sentinel

http://www.thesentinel.com/338110898600552.php

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In the News - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

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By Ben Conery , Washington Times

http://www.washtimes.com/news/2008/dec/24/bush-issues-19-pardons-commutes-1-prison-term/

ICE detainees arrive in Grand Island

In the News - Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday marked the start of housing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees in the new Hall County Jail.

"We got our first vanload today," Supervisor Scott Arnold said at a county board meeting Tuesday.

He chairs the county's Corrections Steering Committee.

Arnold wasn't certain how many detainees were in a "vanload" and Corrections Director Fred Ruiz had already left Tuesday's county board meeting prior to Arnold providing an update to other supervisors on the ICE contract.

Tracy Overstreet, Grand Island (Ne.) Independent, December 9, 2008

http://http://www.theindependent.com/news/x776479137/ICE-detainees-arrive-in-Grand-Island