Apparently, it’s pretty simple and low-risk to file fraudulent tax returns claiming that you qualify for thousands of dollars in refunds.
The IRS will cut you a check, then maaaaaybe somewhere down the road they’ll notice something fishy, then maaaaaaybe they’ll catch you, then maaaaaaaaybe they’ll try to get the money back.
Here’s a story about one of the ones they caught up with.
He took in half a million dollars over three years this way — and all he had to do was just to pull the numbers out of his butt.
It was only accidentally, “after federal agents learned that Fisher had cheated a local car dealer out of $1.2 million and used that money to buy gold bars and silver coins,” that the tax fraud was uncovered incidentally to that investigation.
A recent TIGTA audit found out that this sort of fraud is a billion-dollar problem for the IRS.
“This problem is becoming unmanageable,” the audit said.
The agency issued an estimated $1 billion in potentially fraudulent refunds, four times what it originally estimated, and then didn’t bother to further investigate half a million of the returns with discrepancies.
Their Criminal Investigation division tracked down about $189 million of that billion, but left $894 million on the table.
From time to time I’ve read what I thought of as sort of interesting thought
experiments about how massively-multiplayer video game universes have started
to develop impressively large economies, with measurable exchange rates with
the real world, and about whether real-world governments would eventually try
to dip their taxing fingers into this revenue stream.
Turns out it was less of a sci-fi thought experiment than I thought.
The governments of Australia and China are already implementing virtual currency taxation schemes.
It’s a strange new world.
Did you ever think when you were playing “Monopoly” as a kid that one day it would come to this?
This looks like it could be a useful part of the solidarity economy:
TeachMate.org is a service that helps people who
wish to learn things find others who wish to teach them. You may think of it
as of a dating service in education. We are also very fond of the idea of
teaching for teaching: you can find people who’d love to teach you
something in return for you teaching him another thing.
The essence of this service is simple: whoever teaches — learns. There are
few simple things we wish our user could find out:
- You don’t need to be a professional to teach. Instead, you have to teach to become a professional.
- You don’t need to pay money for learning or ask for money when you teach someone.
- Learning is not about the degrees, it’s about the process and what you can do with your knowledge.