The Internal Revenue Service rejected many of the recommendations in an inspector general’s report about stopping identity theft. In effect, the tax agency said, “Let individuals and their employers handle it.”
The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), called on the IRS to develop strategies to stop employment-related fraud and ID theft – since a lot of ID info is tied to payroll-related, such as Social Security Numbers.
TIGTA suggested that the IRS coordinate with other federal agencies to investigate allegations of ID theft. IRS officials said they’d consider some of the suggestions but won’t adopt some of the major ones, such as:
- Identifying instances of ID theft and stopping individuals from committing employment-related ID theft, or
- Notifying employers when an employee uses someone else’s identity – which could be uncovered when there’s a mismatch on Form W-2.
The agency’s reasoning: It’s up to employers and employees to keep their systems and data secure, and it doesn’t want to get mired in legal questions of privacy. Here’s a relevant passage from the IRS response:
“The IRS will continue to update its strategies to make its efforts more effective and efficient in the areas of identity theft awareness, prevention, detection and prosecution. IRS management is in the process of developing its vision for the future of the Privacy, Information Protection and Data Security office. Management stated that the Criminal Investigation Division is increasing the recommendations for prosecutions of identity theft cases under traditional statutes within the IRS’ jurisdiction. However, management does not plan to more actively identify or stop individuals from committing employment-related identity theft or notify employers of the problem. Management stated that it is prevented by confidentiality and disclosure provisions in the Internal Revenue Code from taking actions to stop continued use of another person’s identity for employment and that it is broadly restricted from sharing taxpayer information with third parties.”
Click here to see the full report and response.