June 14, 2019
WASHINGTON – Last night, the Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to thwart identity theft tax refund fraud and prevent American taxpayers and seniors from falling victim. Their bill, which was included as a provision in the Taxpayer First Act, previously passed the House of Representatives and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The Taxpayer Identity Protection Act would require the IRS to expand its Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) pilot program nationwide over the next five years. An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that allows their tax returns and refunds to be processed without delay and helps prevent the misuse of their SSNs on fraudulent income tax returns. This legislation would allow taxpayers to opt-in to the IP PIN pilot program if they desire an extra layer of identity protection.
“The fact that this bill passed Congress with bipartisan support is great news for all taxpayers, especially the seniors who are more likely to be targets of tax return fraud and scams. This is a concrete step that will help protect American taxpayers by reducing identity theft and saving over a billion dollars in taxpayer money each year,” Senator Jones said.
While the IRS has made significant progress in combatting identity theft refund fraud, it continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the agency, costing victims a total of $1.7 billion in 2016 alone. In 2010, 76,000 low-income senior citizens were victims of this theft. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 82,000 complaints related to tax-refund fraud. Those who have been defrauded often wait months—even years—to receive the refunds to which they are legally entitled.