Criminals are increasingly filing false tax returns using stolen identity information in order to claim victims’ refunds; according to a new GAO report, the IRS paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in 2013
Klobuchar has introduced bipartisan legislation that would help crack down on identity thieves and protect victims by focusing law enforcement resources and increasing penalties on perpetrators
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today said that a new report detailing over $5 billion in tax identity theft in 2013 underscores the need for action to protect taxpayers and crack down on the criminals who are committing these crimes. Criminals are increasingly filing false tax returns using stolen identity information in order to claim victims’ refunds. According to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in 2013. Klobuchar has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that would help crack down on identity thieves and protect victims by focusing law enforcement resources and increasing penalties on perpetrators. Companion legislation introduced by Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently passed the House of Representatives.
“Tax identity theft is a growing problem that’s wreaking havoc on peoples’ lives and costing taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Klobuchar. “This new report is fresh evidence that we need to take action to crack down on these crimes, and I will continue pushing my legislation to focus law enforcement resources to better target and punish the criminals who are ripping off hard-working Americans.”
In cases of widespread fraud across the country, criminals using stolen information such as Social Security numbers have been electronically filing false tax returns before the legitimate taxpayer files in order to steal the taxpayer’s refund. The victims often experience long delays in receiving their rightful refund or never receive it at all.
The STOP Identity Theft Act of 2013 would direct the Department of Justice to focus its resources in areas with a high rate of tax-return identity theft and to coordinate investigations with state and local law enforcement agencies. The bill would increase the maximum jail sentence on perpetrators from 15 to 20 years and expand the definition of a victim of identity theft to allow for prosecution in cases where organizations and businesses—not just individuals—are victims of fraud.