By on February 3, 2011

The DetNews points us to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report [full document in PDF format here] that reveals

Approximately $33 million in credits for plug-in electric and alternative-fueled vehicles credits were erroneously claimed by at least 12,920 taxpayers through July 24, 2010, according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

That means about 20 percent of the $163.9 million in credits claimed by taxpayers from January 1, 2010 to July 24, 2010 for plug-in electric and alternative motor vehicle credits were claimed in error.

The erroneous claims TIGTA identified resulted from inadequate IRS processes to ensure information reported by individuals claiming the credits met qualifying requirements for vehicle year, placed in-service date, and make and model. TIGTA’s review of electronically filed tax returns identified individuals who erroneously claimed the same vehicle for multiple plug-in electric and alternative motor vehicle credits or claimed an excessive number of vehicles for personal use credits.


More highlights: “at least” 88 prisoners filed for the credit, while other taxpayers sought the credit for vehicles like Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Camaro, Harley Classic, Hyundai Sonata, Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Durango and yes, HUMMER H3. Also,

TIGTA found that the IRS is unable to track and account for plug-in electric and alternative motor vehicle credits claimed by individuals on paper-filed tax returns. Processes were not established to capture this information from paper-filed tax returns.


we identified IRS employees who erroneously claimed plug-in electric and alternative motor vehicle credits

The good news: with $13m in fraudulent claims filed, we can take some solace in the fact that only $7m in funds have been lost…

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26 Comments on “Audit Reveals Plug-In Tax Credit Fraud...”

  • avatar

    Yeah, not too jaundiced of a choice of photo to head up this story, is it?

  • avatar

    The big problem with subsidies of course.

    Here in soviet The Netherlands there is a government subsidy for students. So, except from that the education itself is heavily subsidized, all students are elligible to get a monthly gubment allowance for at least 4 years (and students with parents below a certain income treshold get 200 Euro/month more).

    The allowance is something like 90 Euros/month for students living at home and 270 Euros/month for students living on their own (that is; outside their parents basement). Needless to say; a survey revealed that 50% (yes, 50%) of the students who claimed to be living on their own in Amsterdam were not in fact living on their own…

    It’s all very frustrating and unnecessary (side note; I do think public healthcare is a core responsibility of a developed nation regardless of the potential drawbacks so I’m not some ‘tea party’ radical).

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Fraud.  Fraud.  Fraud.  Perpetrated by a fraud.  Sponsored by frauds.  Voted for by frauds.  Covered up by frauds.

    And we expect health care will be different exactly how?

    Liberals please feel free to reply from the comfort of the space behind your pseudonym….I will continue to represent my true name on this and all sites.
    Step one is to identify the liberals.
    Step two is to put them in mental hospitals.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      The more I hear from people like Mark MacInnis the more I realize that I’m not as conservative as I thought I was, or more to the point, what was considered to be conservative isn’t anymore. If my choices are to change my way of thinking to follow the crowd or stick to my principles, I choose to stick to my principles. Congratulations Mark MacInnis, not only have you helped me see the light, since you use your real name I know exactly who the fool is.

    • 0 avatar

      One tiny problem… This subsidy was signed into law by Bush 43….
      Back to step one…

  • avatar

    @ the ‘fraud expert’ MacInnis

    Step three is to introduce you to reality…

    WHO has the proof of which people EXACTLY are scamming these fraudulent tax claims? Yeah, ’cause Hummer H3’s, Harleys and Escalades are the most favored liberal forms of transportation = delusional.

    My vote is these tax cheats are mostly tea baggers and republicans, Jeebus knows y’all don’t like paying ANY taxes for ANYTHING…because magic fairies will repair the roads, and maintain our infrastructure, and create a world-class educational system so future generations can compete in a global economy, and protect the environment from pollution, yes, they’ll do it all for free…we don’t need to pay no taxes for nothin’.

    And Goddess knows it’s the CEO class (largely Rethugliscam-oriented) who  are the experts on cheating taxes and finding loopholes, legal or otherwise…and they love ’em some big-ass SUV’s and Harleys to attract those trophy wives.

    They say they love their country, all they really love is their wallet.

  • avatar

    So we’re going to blame the government for people filing fraudulent returns? If so there’s a lot more to worry about than cars.

  • avatar

    I got the rebate for my 1970 Dodge Polara. Is that wrong?

  • avatar

    Really? Americans try to minimize their tax and take maximum advantage of government incentive programs? Say it ain’t so!
    Combined with that Obama picture, I get the suspicion that this piece is more motivated by Ed’s personal feelings towards the current administration than anything else.

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    The good news: with $13m in fraudulent claims filed, we can take some solace in the fact that only $7m in funds have been lost…
    Ha! Lost or returned whence it came?

  • avatar

    I can’t say I’m too surprised or upset that people cheated the taxpayers out of a program meant to cheat the taxpayers. I don’t want to be paying anyone to buy a particular kind of car. I also don’t want to pay for mass genocide of Panthers and GM B and D bodies, like I did last year.
    Eliminate this nonsense.

  • avatar

    This is what happens when you’re using the Tax Code to bribe people into doing what the government wants.  It’s certainly nothing new, and is not a ploy foreign to any political party, and surely no worse than claiming too many dependents, or personal expenses on your business account. 

    What’s funny is that IRS employees filed false claims. I guess it depends on how you define ‘plug in.’

  • avatar

    While I believe government does have a role in subsidizing technologies and research to an extent, the current administration is rather enamored with credits and incentives to change people’s behavior.  It was all over the news up to and after the election that members of Obama’s team were big fans of using carrot and stick methods to mold the citizenries habits.  Not that I am under any illusions that it would definitely be different under a more conservative administration… this has been a hallmark of Washington for years.  The inclusion of Obama in the picture is fully justified though, these are his preferred policies.

    • 0 avatar

      Again one tiny problem.  This subsidy was created, called for, AND signed into law by “W”.. Not Obama. These are George “W”‘s preferred polices.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe you should re-read my post, I didn’t say that Obama signed THIS subsidy into law, I merely pointed out that these TYPES of policies were the kind he prefers (much like the 10% tax on tanning to deter people from tanning as much).  Your parroting of my wording “policies” overlooks the fact that this policy is just that… policy singular tense, not plural.  Also, the use of “again” implies that I missed your first post and you needed to come back to a two day old story to make your point again.  My post was present when you commented on Mark MacInnis’s post, you just overlooked it – the fact of who signed the incentive into law is indeed news to me, but doesn’t change my outlook on the incentive… you may have noticed I stated that I believed government did have a role in subsidizing new technologies (in order to give them a chance to get off the ground – ethanol is another story).  I even mentioned that things probably would be no different under a more conservative administration.  My point what that THIS policy is the type of policy the Obama admin prefers (citation:,9171,1889153-2,00.html) and that Ed isn’t out of line using a picture of Obama (the figurehead of the current government, which includes an agency called the IRS who is the subject of this story) sitting in the drivers seat of a Volt (an example of the type of car this subsidy is applied to).  Given that Obama stated in his State of the Union that he would like to see a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that he supports this policy.  Or should we say that Obama doesn’t prefer TARP just because George W (no quotation marks needed, it is the man’s middle initial) signed it into law, even though he went to the bill’s rescue as president elect when (a Democrat) Senate was attempting to pass a Resolution of Disapproval in January of ’09.  He has tapped into TARP while president and obviously approved of the bill since he risked political fallout lending his support to an unpopular bill.  Just as he obviously approves of this incentive.

  • avatar

    This brought to you by the government which allowed Cash For Clunkers swaps such as an full size old pickup for a new full size pickup or suv. Who would have thought?
    Aside: anyone know why or how prisoners file taxes? Do prisoners have to declare on their earnings in prison or is this related to people who were free part or all of that tax year but in prison when they had to file for that tax year? Any comments appreciated, thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Because…you’re weighing pros and cons of robbing a bank, right?

      I would not know, but I do know that if you reside in the US for a certain time period as a foreigner you normally have to pay income tax the same way a US citizen does for the amount of months you live in the US. I would imagine a US citizen would somehow have to pay tax for the months he wasn’t in jail, possibly even on income gained through his criminal endeavors (in the netherlands, criminals officially have to inform the ‘IRS’ about what they earned since income through crime is elligible for regular income taxation).

      I know of a case here in the Netherland where a rather well known drugs dealer (Charles Z.) got away without a conviction for drug dealing in criminal court. However, during the trial it became apparent that he did ‘somehow’ made 700MM Euro’s that he didn’t report to the Dutch version of the IRS…As income taxes are pretty high here he had to pay  back a lot of the cash and lost his considerable collection of Ferrari among other things (sadly for him later on things didn’t work out well for him though).

      Side note to the side note; Charles Z’s son, Charles Zwolsman jr., won the Formula Atlantic championship at some point IIRC.

  • avatar

    All the bureaucracy lovers see nothing wrong with layers of tax incentives, hold backs and endless self-contradicting carrots/sticks. They actually think that without such govt enacted behavior engineering, no products would be made and no services delivered.
    In moment of clarity, they might realize that with a simpler tax code, taxes could be more swiftly and accurately taken from taxpayers and business but it’s just too irresistible to not boss and goad people with their progressive urges, guilt and social experimentation.

  • avatar

    The Republicans: Run up huge deficits by supporting the military industrial complex, fight illegal and unjust wars, allow deregulation so that “free market” proponents can avoid taxes, outsource jobs and destroy the middle class.
    The Democrats: Get labeled as “socialists” by trying to right all the wrongs of the previous Republican policy.
    Rinse and repeat.
    I’d rather see policies that try to move us forward as a country, into the future, than policies that support entrenched, money-centric dinosaurs that fear the future (there’s more risk than profit in the short term) A benign government trying to mitigate some risk is somehow twisted into some sort of ‘conspiracy’ to alter people’s behavior, while the previous administration merely had to wave the flag to spend billions on a war that no one truly wanted (except defense contractors and Halliburton).
    And that’s why I like cars. (even though I’m starting to hate oil.)

    • 0 avatar

      shaker: Run up huge deficits by supporting the military industrial complex…

      Except, of course, it’s fun to listen to Congressional Democrats – including the ones supposedly against excessive military spending – scream bloody murder when a proposed cut affects a military base or major defense contractor in their district. That is certainly entertaining.

      shaker: fight illegal and unjust wars…

      Yes, it was illegal and unjust to attack the country that sheltered the people who plotted the 9/11 attacks, and liberate said country from a backward, cruel regime. And I seem to recall lots of Democrats saying that a certain leader in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and supporting the Iraq War (unless Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are now Republicans).

      For that matter, I recall our current vice president labeling Iraq a “success” on Larry King Live. Granted, he is known for his propensity to put his foot into his mouth, but I don’t recall his boss (that would be the current president) contradicting him.

      shaker: …allow deregulation so that “free market” proponents can avoid taxes, outsource jobs and destroy the middle class.

      You might want to review your history books. Deregulation of certain industries – airlines, trucking and telecommunications – started under President Jimmy Carter and was supported by then Senator Ted Kennedy. Are they now Republicans? And, last time I checked, deregulation had lowered prices and brought more choices to consumers in those sectors.

      We never “deregulated” the steel, auto, tire and heavy manufacturing industries, which are usually pointed to as proof that “deregulation” was a disaster for the country. Those industries went through a restructuring because they couldn’t compete with the superior, more efficient foreign competition. But – surprise, surprise – the United States is still the number one manufacturing nation in the world, and manufacturing as a percentage of the gross domestic product has remained steady over the years. The difference is that we make MORE products with FEWER resources, which include employees.

      That is how productivity improvements work, and only the blessedly ignorant try to stop that process. Which, of course, includes the UAW and its attempt to prevent a reduction in the number of UAW members who work for the Big Three with the Jobs Bank. We see how well that one worked – it helped bring GM to bankruptcy and almost killed Ford, too.

    • 0 avatar

      Iraq sheltered the people who attacked us on 9/11 WOW… even dick cheney has dropped that BS.

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