New York State expects this year to stop more than $500 million in false tax refund claims for state personal income taxes, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance has already thwarted $331 million in fraudulent claims using analytic technology to identify questionable tax returns.
About 10 million returns are filed each year in the state.
"These ongoing efforts will ensure that fraud is stopped in its tracks and that tax dollars are returned to those that are entitled to them," Cuomo said Tuesday, the day before the official tax filing deadline.
The tax department stopped 252,000 bogus refund claims last year, totaling $450 million, stemming from multiple forms of fraud. In 2014, a total of 6.6 million refunds were paid, totaling $6.8 billion.
Nationwide, the number of fraudulent tax returns has spiked as criminals steal the names and Social Security numbers of valid taxpayers. In February, the company behind TurboTax, the widely used software for filing taxes, suspended e-filing for 24 hours because of a rash of false state returns.
The Internal Revenue Service lost more than $5 billion to bogus refund claims in 2013. There were nearly 2 million cases of fraud in 2013, up from 440,000 in 2010, the agency said.
A spokesman for the state Tax Department said Tuesday he couldn't estimate the number or value of false refund claims not caught by the department.
"We don't develop estimates around fraud, but rather work diligently to stop it," Geoffrey Gloak said.More than $25 million in bogus refund claims, approved for payment this year by the tax department, have been stopped by the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The comptroller must audit all of the state's bills, including tax refunds, before payments can be made. DiNapoli has approved more than 5 million refunds totaling $4.7 billion so far this year. He said, "As fraud and identity theft increase, we are working to ensure that only legitimate refunds are paid."