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On Tax Day, Paulsen's Taxpayer Identity Theft Bill Sails Through House

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation authored by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) that improves protections for taxpayers against identity theft. The legislation, H.R. 5437, expands the use of taxpayer identity protection PINs (IP PINs). IP PINs are six-digit numbers assigned annually to taxpayers that provide an added layer of protection against identity theft and the filing of fraudulent tax returns. Paulsen’s legislation was approved by unanimous voice vote this afternoon. The legislation was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last week.

IP PINs are today only available as part of a pilot program for taxpayers in two states and the District of Columbia, as well as taxpayers with a particularly high risk of identity theft. Paulsen’s legislation directs the IRS to expand the program over the next five years to ensure any concerned taxpayer is able to apply for a PIN. Without an IP PIN, scam artists need just a taxpayer’s Social Security Number, full name and date of birth to file a false return on their behalf. The scammer is then able to direct any refund into their own accounts.

“As we conclude the 2017 tax filing season this Tax Day, it’s fitting the House is taking steps to strengthen protections for taxpayers against identity theft. It’s a scam that victimized more than 13,000 Minnesota taxpayers in 2015 alone, many of whom don’t even realize they’ve been targeted until they go to file their own legitimate return with the IRS,”said Congressman Paulsen. “This legislation means more peace of mind for taxpayers – particularly seniors – and less time spent untangling the mess of fraud.”

“Today is Tax Day all across America – a day that should never equate with taxpayers having their identity stolen and their hard-earned money taken,” said Congresswoman DelBene.“Unfortunately, we continue to hear one sad story after another across the country. One thing we know for certain is that criminals are getting smarter, and the IRS needs to keep up. Providing these kinds of enhanced security measures is a common sense step to ensure people’s identities are protected. This is a win for families, seniors and small businesses owners, who deserve some peace of mind when it comes time to file their tax returns.”

In just the first two months of the 2016 filing season, the IRS identified more than 32,000 fraudulent returns involving identity theft. A recent Government Accountability Office report indicates that scammers attempted to fraudulently claim $14.5 billion in tax year 2015.