The Small Business Administration says it will work with the Internal Revenue Service to prevent a recent spate of falsified loan applications from growing.
The agreement between the two federal agencies allows the SBA to compare tax returns received from applicants to those filed with the IRS. Lenders will not be affected, though they will have to ask applicants to sign a waiver so the crosscheck can be done.
"The agreement is designed to prevent anyone from successfully applying for a loan with falsified income data," said Mike Stamler, a spokesman for the SBA.
The SBA started receiving fabricated income tax returns during the push to make loans quickly in California after the devastating 1993 earthquake. Mr. Stamler said computer filing of annual returns has also made it easier to falsify tax returns.
Chris LaPorte, chairman and president of Government Securities Corp., a market maker for publicly traded guaranteed loan pools, said the actions will have no effect on the price for SBA loans in the secondary market. He said that the unconditional guarantee provided by the SBA remains intact, even if the loan involved a falsified tax return.
The SBA, however, thought the problem was serious enough to target prevention after a spot check found that falsified tax returns had been used in half the 10 areas nationwide that were spot-checked.
The agency has already referred 15 cases to the Justice Department. "We will go after those who submit false income data both criminally and civilly," Mr. Stamler said.