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Phone Scams, IRAs and Tax Extensions: The IRS published multiple reminder letters this week. In IR-2017-64 the Service warned tax preparers to watch for phishing emails claiming to be from clients. The latest tactic is for a scammer to send an email to tax preparers with a "last...

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Monday December 11, 2017

Washington News

Washington Hotline

46% Reduction in IRS Identity Theft Reports

On May 18, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen spoke to the Council for Electronic Revenue Communication Advancement (CERCA). He called the 2017 filing season "the smoothest filing season since I became Commissioner."

By May of 2017, the IRS received 139 million returns. Over 152 million are expected by the October 16 tax extension filing date. The IRS issued 101 million refunds, with an average payout of approximately $2,800.

Koskinen thanked the CERCA members for helping to support the IRS Security Summit. With the help of companies that provide tax-filing software and services, there has been major progress in "efforts to combat stolen identity refund fraud and protect taxpayer data."

In Koskinen's view, the new safeguards produced "stunning results." There was a major decrease in fraudulent returns and bad refunds.

The number of taxpayers who reported identity theft crimes declined dramatically. There were 698,700 reports in 2015 and only 376,500 in 2016. This reduction reflects IRS success in "stopping criminals from filing false returns using someone else's personal information."

In the future, a combination of the support from CERCA members and the new Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Informaiton Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) will be critical to reducing fraud and identity theft.

Editor's Note: The IRS has made major progress in reducing tax fraud and identity theft. Because the thieves are creative and continue to develop new strategies, it will still be important for CERCA and the IRS to educate and alert taxpayers about the latest tax fraud methods.

Published May 19, 2017
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