The Internal Revenue Service said that early filings show some individual taxpayers have requested large and apparently improper amounts for the special telephone tax refund.“We are seeing some clear abuse involving overstated refund requests,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, in a statement. “People requesting an inflated amount will likely see their refund frozen, may have their entire tax return audited and even face criminal prosecution where warranted.”

The government stopped collecting the long-distance excise tax last August after several federal court decisions held that the tax does not apply to long-distance service as billed today. Treasury officials authorized a one-time refund of tax collected on service billed during the previous 41 months -- typically amounting to $30 for individuals and $60 for couples.

In some cases, taxpayers appear to be requesting a refund of the entire amount of their phone bills, rather than just the three-percent tax on long-distance and bundled service that they are entitled to. Other individuals are making requests for thousands of dollars, indicating that they had phone bills topping $100,000 -- an amount exceeding their income.

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