The Taxpayer Protection Program that the Internal Revenue Service implemented in an effort to curb the problem of identity theft-related tax fraud is improving the IRS’s efforts at detecting identity theft, but the case-processing controls need to be strengthened to reduce the burden on taxpayers victimized by identity theft, according to a new government report.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, acknowledged the IRS’s Taxpayer Protection Program is crucial to the agency’s efforts to combat tax refund fraud and help victims of identity theft receive their refunds. Last year, the program identified 324,670 tax returns involving identity theft and prevented the issuance of $2.2 billion in fraudulent tax refunds. The tax returns were identified before processing was completed to protect the fraudulent tax refunds from ever being issued.

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