Letter from Representative Lois Frankel
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-0922
February 19, 2013
Steven T. Miller
Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 3241
Washington, DC 20224
Dear Acting Commissioner Miller:
I recently learned about an alarming new tax fraud scam being perpetrated on unsuspecting taxpayers. According to an NRP story that aired on February 18, criminals are stealing Social Security numbers and submitting fraudulent income tax returns to unlawfully claim the corresponding refunds. When real tax filers seek their refunds, they find that criminals have already claimed it, and the victims must wait months or even a year to receive the refund that is rightfully theirs.
The scope of the refund fraud is staggering. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate, refund fraud cases have increases by about 650 percent since 2008. Regrettably, South Florida appears to be the epicenter for this tax fraud epidemic. In my short time as a Member of Congress, I have already received three cases of Social Security identity theft, including one constituent who had his identity stolen three times and now cannot obtain a new Social Security Card.
Each refund fraud case contributes to the loss of much-needed federal revenues. One official with the Treasury Department estimated that the fraud scam could cost the federal government $21 billion over the next five years. At a time when Congress and the President are grappling with how to balance our federal budget, we simply cannot let these important tax revenues fall into the hands of criminals.
To this end, I respectfully request an update on ways the IRS is combating refund fraud, including responses to the following questions:
- How is the IRS using the most advanced technology to help identify potentially fraudulent refund claims?
- Does the IRS employ interoperable computer systems, so that all departments within the IRS can share the same data, flag potential problems and resolve conflicts in the most efficient timeframe possible?
- How is the IRS coordinating with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Justice, and other relevant federal agencies to combat refund fraud?
- In what ways is the IRS facilitating a single point of contact for victims of identity theft in the vent that victims must interact with multiple units at the IRS?
With the tax filing season underway, I trust that you will respond to my request in a timely fashion, and I look forward to working with you on this and future issues to ensure that the Internal Revenue Service is best serving the needs of the American public.
Member of Congress
Read the response from the IRS (June 18, 2013)