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By David K. Li
A Florida man received a huge IRS refund by falsely claiming he paid $1 million in taxes, authorities said Friday.
The IRS has recouped much of the $980,000 refund from Tampa resident Ramon Christopher Blanchett, who federal prosecutors said told a seven-digit lie on his 2016 income tax returns.
Blanchett called himself a “freelancer” and reported $18,497 of income that year, according to an asset forfeiture complaint filed last month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa.
But in that same self-prepared 1040 return, filed Feb. 21, 2017, Blanchett also reported that $1 million had been withheld in taxes, which led to a $980,000 refund check, federal authorities said.
By “falsely representing that $1,000,000 in taxes had been withheld, the U.S. Treasury” cut a check, “made payable to Blanchett, for $980,000,” according to the forfeiture complaint written by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Muench.
Blanchett used $49,117.59 to buy a Lexus — which has since been seized by federal authorities, along with three bank accounts worth $919,251.94, court documents showed.
Federal authorities also seized the $809.84 Blanchett got from his car insurance provider, after the Lexus was seized, officials said.
“If you add all that up, we have recovered $969,179.37 of the $980,000,” said William Daniels, a Tampa-based spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He said he could not disclose how the error was discovered.
A representative for the IRS in Washington D.C. declined to discuss Blanchett’s case Friday.
Blanchett, who could not be reached for comment Friday, has not been criminally charged, but the investigation is ongoing, officials said.