The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported significant progress for 2018 in combating tax-related identity theft, while adding protection for taxpayers. The IRS and its Security Summit partners announced the results in an April 8 news release.

“In 2018, our partnership protected more taxpayers and more tax dollars from tax-related identity theft. At a time when many in the private sector continue to struggle with these issues, the tax community has made major progress working together to stop identity theft and refund fraud,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said.

The Security Summit partners enacted their first round of initiatives in 2016 after holding initial meetings in 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, confirmed identity theft returns stopped by the IRS dropped 54 percent, and $24 billion was protected by the IRS in fraudulent refunds by stopping the confirmed identity theft returns.

Despite that progress, theft of taxpayer information that is held by tax professionals is still a major issue of concern, IRS said.

“Thieves can breach practitioners’ computer systems, steal client data, and file fraudulent tax returns before a preparer may even know they have been victimized,” the IRS said in the news release. The IRS’ stakeholder liaison should be contacted if any tax professionals experience data theft.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.