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IRS Fails to Protect Taxpayers … Again

March 09, 2016

The Internal Revenue Service earlier this week announced another damaging data breach that has left more Americans vulnerable to identify theft and refund fraud. In a statement from the IRS, the agency explained the need to take its new identity protection tool (IP PINs) offline after the IRS identified 800 returns filed by fraudsters with stolen personal identification numbers. This news comes during the height of tax season and not long after hundreds of thousands of taxpayers were victims of a coordinated cyber attack on the IRS’s “Get Transcript” service last year.

The announcement is further proof the IRS is failing to protect the American people. Even the agency’s efforts to rectify last year’s breaches resulted in more breaches.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

“One of the [IRS’s] tools for fighting identity theft was itself susceptible to identity thieves.”

How? According to nonpartisan government watchdogs such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the agency’s most recent attempt to protect taxpayers doubled down on the same failed approach it used with “Get Transcript.”

And in the words of Quartz:

“The IRS is using a system that was hacked to protect victims of a hack—and it was just hacked.”

Even before the Get Transcript hack had been discovered, GAO raised concerns about the safety of the IP PIN system, and the IRS ignored them. In fact, the IRS has tried to sweep the problem under the rug, downplaying the number of people harmed by these system failures.

Millions of Americans are now in the process of filing their tax returns and deserve to know that their information is secure. That’s why members of the Ways and Means Committee are working to hold the IRS accountable for protecting taxpayers. For example, in a response to a recent report about the IRS’s “woefully inadequate” fraud prevention systems, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said:

“IRS employees’ main priority should be to deliver excellent customer service to hardworking taxpayers who fund our government and pay their salaries. Ways and Means Members will continue to conduct rigorous oversight of the IRS and its plans in the months ahead.”

Looking ahead, the Committee will continue to review IRS plans and demand the IRS deliver taxpayers better and safer service.

To learn more about the Committee’s efforts to hold the IRS accountable, click here.