IRS Aims High to Crack Down on Identity Theft
By Ken Berry
The IRS is ramping up its efforts to crack down on personal identity thefts involving illegally procured tax return information.
As part of a comprehensive plan to detect and deter identification theft, the IRS is implementing a new pilot program in conjunction with the state of Florida. It expects this to be the initial step in coordinating efforts with local law enforcement officials. The IRS will forward the pertinent tax return records to the police so they can pursue criminal investigations and prosecutions. No information will be disclosed without the taxpayer's consent.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Florida leads the nation in identity theft cases. Legislators in the Sunshine State have been lobbying the IRS to provide a ray of hope against this ever-growing problem.
"Law enforcement officials will need to contact the identity theft victims in order to request and secure the victims' consent for disclosure of the records," the IRS said in a formal statement. "In certain instances, the IRS will assist law enforcement in locating taxpayers and soliciting their consent."
The IRS has devised a new disclosure form to be used specifically for this purpose. The information gathered will be shared by the appropriate crime units of the IRS and participating Florida law enforcement officers.
According to an IRS statement, "The documents will not be sent directly to the taxpayer. However, the IRS will continue to work directly with taxpayers to clean up their tax accounts as quickly as possible, and the victims do not need a copy of the falsely filed documents to complete that process."
After an undetermined time, the IRS will analyze the results of the program and determine how to proceed.
But this isn't the only initiative on its launching pad.
"The IRS comprehensive identity theft strategy comprises a dual effort, focusing both on fraud prevention and victim assistance. On the prevention side, this means implementing new processes for handling returns, new filters to detect fraud, new initiatives to partner with stakeholders, and a continued commitment to investigate the criminals who perpetrate these crimes. As for victim assistance, the IRS is working to speed up case resolution, provide more training for our employees who assist victims of identity theft, and step up outreach to [educate] taxpayers so they can prevent and resolve tax-related identity theft issues quickly."
More details about the IRS' efforts concerning identification theft are available on its website. Victims of suspicious activities are encouraged to contact the IRS.
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