FORT WORTH –– Danielle Johnson flipped through tax forms earlier this week at her kitchen table, the only furniture in her apartment. Empty mattresses on the bedroom and living room floors indicate the number of kids away in school.
She poured out her story and her tears.
“These are my original tax forms,” she said. “I was getting back 8,304.00”
‘Tax fraud’ sounds too sanitary for what happened to Johnson. She cares for her own children and her little sisters left by her late mother. She has six dependents altogether.
Johnson styles hair to pay the rent.
"I made $17,493 dollars," she said, pointing to a line on her return.
She filed February 8 at a tax preparer's office, hoping to get that $8,300 refund quickly. Then she got the call.
"That Monday she called and said my taxes had already been filed using my social security number,” Johnson said.
She doesn't know who filed for her refund, how they did it or whether they actually received it. She filed Form 14039 for identity theft. According to a government audit, identity thieves hit more than 1.6 million taxpayers in the first half of last year.
Johnson says the IRS told her it would take about six months to straighten out her file. The agency gave her a PIN number and flagged her social security number to prevent further fraud.
The IRS says it opened nearly six times as many ID theft investigations last year as it did in 2011. Johnson's is just one of many News 8 found in recent police reports as tax season gets underway.
Statistics look different sitting across the kitchen table.
“I guess I’ll go to plan B,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.