Florida at epicenter of tax identity theft - FOX 35 News Orlando

With Florida at epicenter of tax ID thefts, Nelson pushes for tougher penalties

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Just days before Uncle Sam's tax deadline, there's disturbing news about thieves stealing tax returns: Nine of the 10 hardest-hit cities in the nation are in Florida -- and Orlando is on the list.

Adriana Colon said someone stole her tax return after filing online. She said she received a notice through email. She was expecting $200 back from the Internal Revenue Service, but instead, it came back rejected, "telling me that my Social Security number has been used already this year in 2013, filing taxes.

"They need to crack down on this, because this is not the first time this has happened to me," she said.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson said too many criminals are getting away with other people's tax returns.

"Florida is the hotspot for tax-refund identity scams. They steal someone's ID number, such as Social Security, file a fake return getting a refund. This has been a huge problem, estimated at over $5 billion lost in the U.S. Treasury."

That's why Sen. Nelson has proposed the Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act, hoping to create tougher penalties for those who sell or purchase other peoples social security numbers.

"This is jail time," Nelson said. "We're increasing it to five to 10 years in the clinker."

He is also requiring the IRS to return a victim's tax return within 90 days.

"We've had some that have gone on for three years, but usually, they've been getting them back at about six months," Nelson said.

"My frustration is that it's taking so long," Colon said. "It's already April, and it's going to end soon, and am I going to get my money?"

But she's relieved someone is trying to prevent this from happening again.

"It makes me feel a lot more confident that they're dealing with this issue."

Nelson said correcting the process has been horrendous for taxpayers, so he created this legislation. He plans to bring the bill before the finance committee later this year.

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