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Tax Cheats Beware - DC Office of Tax and Revenue Unveils Tax Fraud Hotline

Monday, December 6, 1999

WASHINGTON, DC - The District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue unveiled today a toll-free tax fraud hotline. The public can now anonymously report anything from a person's failure to file taxes, to unreported income, to falsifying information on tax returns, to real property tax fraud, to the sale of Social Security numbers, by calling 1-800-380-3495, or via e-mail at [email protected]. All allegations will be kept confidential and will be investigated by the Office of Tax and Revenue or referred to the DC Office of Inspector General.

"Paying taxes is a civic responsibility," said Dr. Natwar Gandhi, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Tax and Revenue. "The District depends on the collection of taxes to pay for everything from public safety initiatives, better education programs, and economic development, to feeding the hungry, helping senior citizens, and youth development. We developed the tax fraud hotline as an opportunity for the honest taxpayer to balance the scorecard with tax cheats, and to assure them that the District of Columbia is serious about pursuing tax cheats."

When a person contacts the hotline, he or she can expect the hotline staff to conduct a thorough evaluation of the details of the allegation. If deemed necessary, a civil or criminal investigation will be launched. If a call is viewed as phony, then the information will be disregarded as false.

Many individuals who have information about illegal activities may not call for fear of retaliatory actions by the alleged tax abuser. However, the public can be assured that all caller identities will be kept confidential.

"We hope the tax fraud hotline will serve as a safe source for taxpayers to turn to when they are faced with the dilemma of keeping quiet or reporting fraudulent activities related to tax fraud or tax evasion," said Wilma Matthias, Director of the Office of Tax and Revenue's Internal Audit/ Internal Security Administration, which has jurisdiction over the hotline. "Anyone who has information about tax fraud or evasion should contact the hotline immediately. With the information received, further tax fraud and abuse can be averted."

The Office of Tax and Revenue also has established a Voluntary Disclosure Program which invites taxpayers who are not in full compliance with the District's tax laws to come forward on their own. If a taxpayer wants to participate in the Voluntary Disclosure Program, he or she must first contact Thomas Kerwin, assistant audit manager, by telephone at (202) 442-6578 or by facsimile at (202) 442-6883. The taxpayer must then file all returns that are due and pay the tax and interest. The Office of Tax and Revenue will waive civil penalties, which may be up to 25 percent of the amount of taxes owed. It is important to note that the taxpayer must have come forward on his or her own free will - without first having been contacted by the Office of Tax and Revenue - to participate in this program.

The Office of Tax and Revenue collects nearly $2.7 billion in taxes annually, and is the main source of revenue generation for the District of Columbia.