Tags: IRS | IRS | budget cuts | identity theft | taxpayers

Will Budget Cuts to the IRS Lead to More Identity Theft of Taxpayers?

By    |   Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 10:53 AM

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers identity theft a serious crime, due to the harm it can cause to innocent taxpayers, businesses, non-profit organizations and the agency itself, especially when filing tax returns.

Tax-related identity theft happens when someone with a stolen Social Security number files a fraudulent refund claim. Thieves also use stolen employer identification numbers to create false W-2 forms to support refund fraud schemes.

As cases continue to grow, the IRS has taken aggressive action to protect taxpayers and aid victims, with more than 3,000 employees assigned to work on identity theft-related situations. The IRS also trains their workforce to detect identity theft indicators.

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But along with other government organizations, the IRS isn't immune to downsizing. In January, the agency said that budgetary constraints would force the agency to conduct 46,000 fewer audits and shed 1,800 tax collectors through attrition in 2015, according to USA Today.

Such cuts were thought to be sobering news for taxpayers, as the reduced workforce could delay identity theft prevention efforts and tie up refunds.

"There is no way around the severity of these budget cuts without taking some difficult steps," John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner told employees in an e-mail, according to USA Today.

In that reality, could identity theft — already one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. — pose an even bigger threat for taxpayers?

Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union tells USA Today, "IRS employees are doing their best to handle the rising demand for their services, but they will simply not be able to keep up." She added that tax cheats will have an easier time evading what they owe.

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"Even though the government organization faces budget challenges, its work on identity theft and refund fraud continues to expand," IRS employee "Julianne" tells people in a YouTube video interview.

"Several thousand IRS employees are currently working on identity theft issues. During the past few years, the IRS has enhanced its efforts to help identity theft victims and considerably decrease the time it takes to resolve these complex cases."

The IRS audited a decade-low 0.86 percent of individual taxpayers in 2014, The Wall Street reported in February, citing data released by the agency. The total number of 2014 audits was 1.24 million, 11.5 percent less the previous year.

"At our current funding level, both enforcement and taxpayer service will suffer," Koskinen tells USA Today,

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers identity theft a serious crime, due to the harm it can cause to innocent taxpayers, businesses, non-profit organizations and the agency itself, especially when filing tax returns.
IRS, budget cuts, identity theft, taxpayers
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2015-53-22
Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 10:53 AM
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