Taming Tax Fraud’s New Digital Frontier: What Can Tax Authorities Do to Take On Fraudsters and Win

| Point of View

While innovative new technologies have been very efficient in combating traditional fraud, our research has found that digital technologies are also giving rise to new types of digital tax fraud:

  • The increase in the number of e-filings of tax returns across geographies is driving new types of fraud using identity theft as the basis;
  • Another type of fraud taking shape is Zapping – using software programs to automatically skim cash from electronic cash registers (ECR) or point of sale systems;
  • Similarly, the growing usage of third-party payroll processors is opening up a whole new avenue of fraud where unscrupulous processors siphon off taxes due to the state.

 

Our analysis of these new digital tax frauds shows that inaction is not an option for tax authorities. We have modelled the evolution of tax fraud, taking into account new incidents of fraud enabled by digital technologies. Our findings are sobering for tax authorities. In a scenario where tax authorities continue to fight new tax fraud with conventional tools, we estimate digital tax fraud in the US will rise from $32 billion to $49 billion by 2020.

To combat this staggering scale of fraud, conventional methods are too slow for the digital age. Tax authorities must move away from an incremental, piecemeal approach to a much more comprehensive transformative line of attack with a long-term vision, roadmap and multifaceted solutions involving people, processes and technology. In this paper we explore:

  • What is the impact of inaction of tax authorities to rein in new types of digital tax fraud?
  • What should be an ideal approach of tax authorities to combat digital tax fraud? And,
  • How analytics needs to be used as an effective weapon to fight against digital tax fraud.