Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., accused the Internal Revenue Service of falling short on efforts to combat taxpayer identity theft.

Baucus' criticism came in response to a report sent by IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman on the steps the agency was taking to protect taxpayer information and help taxpayers who reported ID theft. However, Baucus (pictured) was not satisfied with the IRS' actions.

"Identity theft is a growing and serious issue that victimizes too many Americans," he said. "And while this report is full of good intentions, its actual treatment of the problem is tepid and insufficient. I need the IRS to give me clear, substantive answers on their strategic plan - and its implementation - to treat and resolve cases of identity theft. I intend to follow up with Commissioner Shulman to make certain that my expectations are clear."

Baucus acknowledged that the report demonstrates some improvement in IRS processes, including the ability for taxpayers to "self-report" to the IRS when their identities have been stolen, rather than having to wait and see if their information will be fraudulently used by another person to file a tax return. However, Baucus said the response he received from the IRS does not show an earnest attempt to address the identity theft issue.

Shulman contended that the IRS is taking a "comprehensive approach" to protecting taxpayer information and that the agency is enhancing its efforts in victim assistance, outreach and prevention. "When identity-theft victims seek assistance from a government agency, they have the right to expect the agency to help them - not add to their problems," said Shulman. "The IRS will continue to work diligently to reduce the burden placed on the taxpayer and the tax system as a result of identity theft." 

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