In the wake of a major hack of the Internal Revenue Service network, the IRS reports that it will partner with third-party firms to bolster security and protect the information and returns of taxpayers. The efforts will include working with software and tax-preparation firms.
In May 2015, hackers were able to breach the IRS network to acquire data on approximately 104,000 taxpayers. The information included data from old tax returns, which the hackers used to collect fraudulent return money. This hack wasn’t the first time fraudulent monies were paid by the IRS. The agency reports that in 2013 alone, it likely paid as much as $5.8 billion to fraudulent filers.
In 2015, the IRS reports that it stopped as many as 700,000 returns that were fraudulent before they were paid. The agency is unable to state how many fraudulent returns made it through this year, though.
The new efforts will include additional authentication steps. The steps are meant to help the IRS identify whether taxpayers are legitimate when filing returns. It will also help identify legitimate versus fraudulent information on tax returns.
While fighting fraud is a good measure–and one that protects taxpayers, who may have their tax returns or identities stolen–it is always possible that a crack down by the IRS may scoop legitimate tax payers into the net. With more steps in the process and more eyes on the gate, returns might be denied or questioned, even when there aren’t actually problems.
Anyone dealing with any issue with the IRS may benefit from third-party assistance. Understanding how to answer audit requests, negotiate payments, or file appropriate tax returns with the largest benefit to tax savings are all skills that can help reduce the burdens of the tax return process.
Source: Texas Public Radio, “IRS Announces Effort To Fight Fraudulent Tax Returns,” Brian Naylor, June 11, 2015