In a report released Tuesday, the IRS discovered more than 1 million tax-paying Americans were victims of identity theft. These victim’s social security numbers were stolen by illegal immigrants and officials didn’t even inform most of them of these crimes.
The IRS was alerted of this problem five years ago, but have yet to find a solution. The inspector general said the 2014 pilot program to test a solution was eventually cancelled.
So that means up to a million taxpayers still have no idea their identities have been stolen. As the inspector general said earlier this week, “taxpayers identified as victims of employment-related identity theft are not notified.”
The social security numbers are being stolen by illegal immigrants who are providing these valid numbers to employers in order to get a job. And they get away with it because employers are prohibited from looking too closely into the numbers provided.
However, these scammers are revealed when they filed their taxes using a unique Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN,) numbers given to illegal immigrants in a shady IRS practice so they can still pay taxes even though they aren’t allowed to legally live in the US.
From 2011 to 2015, the IRS received almost 1.1 million returns verifying that a social security number was stolen.
The 2014 failed pilot program was said to be “helpful” (whatever that means) by Karen Schiller, commissioner for the IRS’ small business and self-employment division. The program did notify 25,000 of the victims of the identity theft. But ultimately, it did not solve the notification problem and the agency plans to try to alert all victims by the beginning of next year.
By federal law, the IRS is not allowed to tell taxpayers who was responsible for the identity fraud.
“As we continue to battle and make progress against all strains of identity theft in the tax ecosystem, we recognized that we were missing an important partner in this effort — the taxpaying public,” said Schiller. She then promised to develop a system to let the Social Security Administration (SSA) know when a citizen’s number has been stolen.
But, how has this problem existed for five years without a solution? If you are alarmed by this news, don’t worry you aren’t alone.
“It is stunning that the IRS has chosen to aid and abet identity thieves for so long instead of protecting the innocent victims of the theft,” said Sen. Daniel Coats, Indiana Republican.
The IRS consistently has stated its role isn’t to enforce immigration laws. However, the agency is often criticized for issuing the ITINs to illegal immigrants which protects them from discovery, while giving them unwarranted tax credits.
“All of us can agree that victims need to know that they’re victims, and need to know that an agency of the federal government, whether it’s IRS or whether it’s SSA, or both, ought to have some ability to talk to each other,” said Coats.