Bipartisan DelBene-Paulsen ID Theft Prevention Bill Clears Key Committee Hurdle
The House Committee on Ways and Means today approved H.R. 5437, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) that will reduce the risk of taxpayer identity theft by expanding the IRS’ Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) program. The legislation was approved this morning with a unanimous bipartisan vote.
An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to taxpayers each year that helps the IRS validate the authenticity of a filer’s tax return. It makes the filing of fraudulent returns using another individual’s data more difficult by requiring another step in the verification of the identity of the filer. In just the first two months of the 2016 filing season alone, for example, the IRS identified more than 32,000 fraudulent returns involving identity theft. A recent Government Accountability Office report indicates that scammers attempted to claim $14.5 billion in tax year 2015.
Currently, IP PINs are available to taxpayers as part of a pilot program in just two states – Florida and Georgia – as well as the District of Columbia, or to taxpayers at particular risk of identity theft. Paulsen and DelBene’s legislation expands the program by giving all concerned taxpayers the option of signing up for an IP PIN over the next five years.
DelBene and Paulsen, both Ways and Means Committee Members, voiced their support for the legislation during today’s proceedings.
“No one deserves to have their identity stolen and their hard-earned money taken,” said Congresswoman DelBene. “Every year at this time, millions of Americans are filing their tax returns, and it’s our job to ensure that as the criminals get smarter, the IRS provides enhanced security measures to protect taxpayers’ identities. Families, individuals and seniors count on every dollar to raise children, put food on the table and retire with dignity. This bipartisan measure is an important step toward making sure that come filing time, American families can get their returns processed without learning that a thief has already done it for them and stolen their money, identity, and peace of mind.”
“For a criminal, the scam is simple: steal a taxpayer’s Social Security Number, file a fraudulent claim in their name and collect the refund. For the taxpayer, unwinding the mess is far tougher,” said Congressman Paulsen. “It’s a crime that hits seniors, frequently victimized without their knowledge, particularly hard. Expanding access to IP PINs will strengthen protections against this theft and is an important part of modernizing the way the IRS interacts with taxpayers.”