GAO: Action Needed to Combat $5 Billion Tax Refund Fraud

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 @ 4:03AM

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New Report Calls on IRS to Implement Stronger Safeguards to Protect Private Taxpayer Information

Sarah Swinehart, September 22

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must take bold and innovative action to combat more than $5 billion in fraudulent identity theft tax refunds, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, requested by leaders on the Senate Finance and Aging Committees as well as the House Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS should take additional steps to strengthen its pre-refund and anti-fraud efforts to effectively stop tax refund fraud before it even starts.

"The IRS is not doing enough to protect Americans from the terrible crime of identity theft and fraud," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). "In one case, the IRS received over 2,000 returns from a single address – paying out over $3.3 million in refunds. That is not just a simple error, that is clear mismanagement. IRS must ensure that all is being done to stop detect fraudulent payments, protect hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and stop the crime of tax fraud."

"The American people should be able to trust the IRS to protect their identities, preserve their privacy, and ensure their hard-earned money isn’t being carelessly flushed down the drain. Sadly, that’s not the case," said Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "As the GAO made clear today, there is more that can be done to improve the agency’s anti-fraud capabilities. Moving forward, I hope the IRS will take a serious look at these recommendations and work with Congress to implement smart safeguards that not only better serve the victims of identity theft refund fraud but, ultimately, stop it before it even starts."

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