Can the Internal Revenue Service handle tax credit programs that pump out billions of dollars to homeowners and buyers? A new federal investigation on home energy tax credits suggests the answer may be: Not quite yet.I propose we punish the IRS with a one-year, unpaid hiatus.
The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration audited the residential tax credit program, created by Congress to encourage homeowners to install energy-saving equipment and materials in their houses, and found some disturbing oversights.
One part of the program offers 30% credits — with no dollar limit — for solar energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines and fuel cells installed before Dec. 31, 2016. A second part of the program — for energy-efficiency home improvements — offered credits up to $1,500 for qualifying exterior windows and doors, insulation and roofing materials.
Both credits have been popular. More than 6.8 million taxpayers received credits during tax year 2009, totaling $5.8 billion through December 2010. But substantial numbers of the filings had problems that went undetected by the IRS, according to the inspector general's investigation. In a review of 5 million returns, auditors found that more than 302,000 taxpayers, who received a total of $234 million in credits from the IRS, showed no evidence of owning a home — the minimum requirement for eligibility.
A review of a smaller sample of returns, supplemented with local real estate property deed information, found that 30% "had no record of owning a home."
h/t: Ben Cunningham.