Nearly 6 billion dollars in education tax credits may be going to people who don't deserve it .

Why? Because apparently no one's checking at the I.R.S., and crooked tax preparers are going along with the scam.

Happy Tax's Mario Costanz blames a lack of 3rd party verification of the tax credit claims.

He says no one's verifying that the person claiming the tax credit's actually enrolled in an education program.

And he says, "It comes at a time of budget cuts to the I.R.S. which makes matters worse."

But Costanz also blames bureaucratic inefficiency, saying the I.R.S. isn't properly using the funding they have.

He doesn't understand why someone at the I.R.S. isn't checking to see that the proper educational documentation is there with the tax return claiming the tax credit.

The credit's a thousand dollars for someone who'd not working, and can go up to 25- hundred dollars.

As for the cost of going after the cheaters, he says the I.R.S. would get that back by catching the cheaters and demanding that the credits be repaid.

Costanz says because so much of the problem can be blamed on tax preparers, he thinks they should be more closely regulated.

He says 2 million people who didn't deserve the credit collected 3 billion dollars, and, 250 of them were in prison at the time.

Costanz says the I.R.S. is trying to fix the problem, but the agency could have avoided the problem if they'd just verified the claims first.

For more on Mario Costanz and Happy Tax...

www.gethappytax.org.

Photo: Scott Olson / 2005 Getty Images