Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief – Tax Day has come and gone. This year on the day many Americans dread, House Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced The Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act (H.R. 4362), a bipartisan measure aimed at stopping the growing problem of tax return identity theft.
Don’t think it’s that much of a problem? Think again. The Internal Revenue Service says that last year alone – tax year 2010 – more than 850,000 tax returns and $5.8 billion were associated with tax return identity theft.
The act would step up penalties for criminals who steal another’s identity, and their tax return. Also the list of victims of identity theft would be broadened to include businesses and charitable organizations, as many have been having trouble with identity theft.
Most victims are unaware that their identities have been stolen until they file their tax returns, only to be told by the IRS that someone claiming to be them already filed a return and claimed the refund.