House Passes Bill to Curb Tax Return Identity Theft

Monday, February 4th, 2013 @ 8:02PM

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The House has approved legislation to increase the criminal penalties against identity thieves who steal taxpayer information to file fraudulent returns.

The Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act, H.R. 4362, was introduced in April by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill aims to address the problem of tax return identity theft by strengthening criminal penalties and increasing the prosecution rate of tax return identity thieves. The bill would add tax fraud to the list of offenses as a predicate for aggravated identity theft charges, subject to two- to five-year mandatory sentencing guidelines.

The STOP ID Theft Act also expands the definition of a victim of identity theft to include businesses and charitable organizations, as a growing concern among these groups is having their identities stolen and used in phishing schemes to extract the sensitive information from unsuspecting taxpayers used in tax return thefts.

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