In Cook County, Illinois, you can try to evade but you cannot hide from your tax obligations.
Following the lead of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has employed new technologies that helped it catch $4.1 billion in identity-related tax fraud in 2016, Cook County has also deployed new tax monitoring technologies that has already saved the county more than $26 million. Cook Country uses these technologies to check-up on the tax returns filed by its 5 million or so residents.
StateTech’s Juliet Van Wagenen reports:
“The Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) implemented an investigative tool known as LexisNexis Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution for its investigative unit. The Erroneous Exemptions Unit was created in 2013 as the result of a piece of legislation that allowed the county to investigate and target when homeowners wrongly receive tax breaks on homes that were not their primary residences, or if they take advantage of exemptions for which they were not actually qualified.
“While the county has already saved more than $26 million, it has actually identified almost $45 million in erroneous tax breaks over the last four years and is currently pursuing an additional $19 million.
“With all recovered revenue returned directly to school districts and other community taxing bodies, the program has already had a huge impact,” Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.”
The Lexis Nexis data analytics system pulls in data from more than 20,000 databases across the United States and compares them to each other. Using these data points, suspected tax cheats could be identified.
More from StateTech’s report:
“It’s an investigative tool that helps us to figure out an exact address using someone’s driver’s license, his various addresses or past addresses,” Tim Monahan, the deputy assessor for Erroneous Exemptions, tells StateScoop. “We have access to social security numbers and we also have access to friends, relatives and neighbors, so it allows us to pinpoint a person to particular location.”
“Moreover, the technology’s most significant contribution was that it augmented the six-person staff at the CCAO, saving the county hundreds of man hours, Shaer tells StateScoop.
“The time savings is immeasurable,” Monahan tells StateScoop. “Otherwise it would require phone calls to all these foreign jurisdictions [other states, counties and cities] to see whether or not someone owned property in that particular jurisdiction.”