IRS official warns of tax hoax using slave reparations

February 12, 2002|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Internal Revenue Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti traveled to Baltimore yesterday to alert African-American taxpayers to a scheme designed to persuade them they are owed slave reparations as part of their federal tax refund.

Rossotti appeared at a news conference with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the West Baltimore Democrat who invited him to the city after hearing him warn the Congressional Black Caucus about a "Negro Inheritance Tax Refund" hoax circulating in several Southern states this month.

Telephone calls, e-mail bulletins and shopping mall solicitations have been used to spread the word about the false refund forms, Cummings said. Up to $250 is collected as the price of filling out a form, he said.

"As [tax] filing season begins, we need to know about this reprehensible preying on ... people," Rossotti said, noting that there is no such reparation law on the books. The Philadelphia IRS office, which serves Maryland, received 8,000 false claims for the reparations last year, about 10 percent of those received nationwide, officials said.

Cummings said he favors setting up a national commission to study the issue of reparations for the injustices of slavery. But for now, Cummings said, "The main thing is to get the word out."

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