IRS to Improve Program for ID Theft Victims

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The Internal Revenue Service plans to improve its program to provide copies of false tax returns to victims of tax-related identity theft, according to a recent report.

J. Russell George

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, noted that in some cases IRS employees had made processing errors in its Fraudulent Return Request Program, including not filing requests in a timely manner, not providing taxpayers with copies of the return, and not redacting all the necessary information from returns.

The Fraudulent Return Request Program was created in November 2015 to allow ID theft victims to request copies of the tax returns that had been fraudulently filed using their identities. The IRS has received over 5,000 requests for returns since then, and from an audit that TIGTA conducted on a sample of those, it concluded that as many as a tenth, or 498, of those could contain processing errors.

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Following its audit, TIGTA recommended that the IRS ensure that its staff timely and accurately process requests, and that it implement an automated process to redact fraudulent returns to remove personally identifiable information before they are provided to ID theft victims.

The IRS agreed with both recommendations, and said that it planned to take fix the issues identified, in part by updating internal guidelines and creating new training materials.

“The government should do everything in its power to assist victims of identity theft,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in a statement. “This includes the accurate and timely processing of identity theft victims’ requests for copies of fraudulent tax returns.”

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