State Roundup: Revenue says new system catches tax frauds

From Illinois News Network

The Illinois Department of Revenue is sniffing out potential tax fraud, thanks to new systems put in place to catch potential abuse. Terry Horstman, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Revenue, says they have been working through new fraudulent schemes that have been detected.

“That of course has cause additional processing times and scrutiny. At this point in time, thanks to system security upgrades throughout the tax season we’ve been successful in combating a number of attempts.”

Horstman says the Department plans to reveal more in the near future about the attempted fraudulent tax schemes.

State expects increase in electronic income tax filings

With the tax filing deadline Wednesday Horstman says they have processed 3.6 million returns for individuals so far, which is on pace with last year–especially in electronic filings.

“We have processed over 3.6 million individual income tax returns. Compared to last year we are right on pace we continue to see growth in the electronic returns. By the end of the year we’re projecting around a 2 to 3 percent increase over last year in electronic returns.”

Horstman encourages filers to file electronically for quicker refunds. The state has a free online filing system through All together, Horstman says the Department expects to process 5.8 million individual returns, but didn’t have an estimate on the number of expected corporate filings.

The 2014 tax year includes the increased individual income tax rate of five percent and the corporate tax rate of seven percent. Both rates dropped when the tax increase sunset at the beginning of this year.

Chicago could pay big to settle claims

With the prospect of the City of Chicago paying a quarter of a million dollars to settle a lawsuit over a death investigation and a $5 million dollar settlement for a police involved shooting death, the amount paid out to settle other cases of alleged misconduct comes into focus.

The city council is set to vote for a payout of $250,000 to the mother of David Koschman to settle a lawsuit where it’s alleged authorities covered up information about her son’s death from over a decade ago. The Chicago Tribune reports the defendants of the case include city police, city hall and Cook County prosecutors.

Meanwhile the Chicago Sun Times reports the city’s finance committee agreed Monday to a proposed $5 million settlement over the police involved shooting of a Chicago teen. The full city council will take up that settlement later this month.

That case is the subject of a state and federal investigation, according to the Times. These two cases could add to more than $50 million dollars the city has already paid out in police misconduct cases in the past year.

The $54.2 million figure published by The Chicago Reporter includes more than $9.5 million in attorneys’ fees.

Budget hearing highlights proposed state reductions in higher ed, local governments

Senators in the Appropriations Committee Monday heard how proposed reductions to the state’s public universities would impact higher education.

During testimony in Champaign, University of Illinois Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise said there has been steady reductions in state aid for decades but characterized the proposed cuts for the coming fiscal year as draconian.

The university’s Student Affairs department also said cuts would impact student programs, including programs they say attract minority students. Chancellor Wise did say the University is pursuing all methods to keep tuition costs low.

Senators also heard about the impact of reductions in state aid to local governments. Several central Illinois mayors, including leaders from Champaign, Danville, Urbana, and Rantoul testified during committee.

There was also testimony from social service and healthcare providers decrying proposed reductions in the coming fiscal year.

Crop report: Precipitation levels lead to limited fieldwork

There was a little more rain than normal and temperatures were a bit warmer last week than average, but only about three days were suitable for fieldwork across the state. That’s according to the latest crop report from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The report says despite the above normal precipitation topsoil moisture was only 68 percent adequate while subsoil was 74 percent adequate.

The report also indicates that 54 percent of winter wheat condition was considered good to excellent.

Oats reach nearly 40 percent complete which was better than last year but more than 15 percent behind the five-year average.

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