NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


February 11, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT "BLACK INHERITANCE TAX REFUND" SCAM

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. is warning Maryland consumers to beware of e-mails or other communications promising African-American taxpayers assistance in filing for a "Black Inheritance Tax Refund" with their federal income tax returns.

A Maryland consumer alerted the Attorney General's office when he received an e-mail that said that "our government has finally passed a bill to pay all descendants [of slavery] back. The way they are paying us is through a refund called the "Black Inheritance Tax Refund/40 Acres and a Mule." The e-mail instructed the consumer to call for a packet of information on how to receive the refund. The e-mail also asked the recipient to "please send [this e-mail] to everyone you can!"

"This e-mail is purely a fraud intended to get money from consumers," said Curran. "There is no provision in the tax law allowing African-Americans to get tax credits or refunds related to slavery reparations."

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a nationwide alert to taxpayers about various tax scams, including bogus "slavery reparations" tax refunds or credits for African-Americans. The IRS said that unscrupulous promoters have encouraged clients to pay them to prepare a claim for the refund. In 2001, the IRS received nearly 80,000 returns claiming false reparation refunds. The agency says that such claims are a waste of money and promoters of reparations tax schemes have been convicted and imprisoned.

Taxpayers with questions about reparations scams can call the IRS's toll-free customer service line at 1-800-829-1040 and find more information at the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

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