A few years ago I tried to file my tax return online only to have it rejected because someone else had already filed one with my name and Social Security number. The impostor had requested a sizable refund, and for all I know, the IRS paid it. But the other me had an address in a different town, and I never saw the refund.
This seems to be a regular problem. Here's an excerpt from IRS Combats Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts:
In fiscal year 2014, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft related investigations. Criminal Investigation enforcement efforts resulted in 748 sentencings as compared to 438 in FY 2013, an increase of 75 percent and the incarceration rate rose 7.1 percent to 87.7 percent. The courts imposed significant jail time with the average months to serve in FY 2014 at 43 months as compared to 38 months in FY 2013 — the longest sentencing being 27 years. ...
The Identity Theft Clearinghouse (ITC) continues to develop and refer identity theft refund fraud schemes to Criminal Investigation (CI) Field Offices for investigation. Since its inception in FY12, it has received over 7,600 individual identity theft leads. These leads involved approximately 1.47 million returns with over $6.8 billion in refunds claimed.
The ratio of identity theft investigations to potentially fraudulent returns isn't very good at 1,063 to 1,470,000. But detection is always one step behind deception. So let's move on to the IRS itself and its own lack of safeguards.
They're constantly nagging the general public about protecting our private information. But the IRS itself isn't doing such a good job of protecting our information. The GAO issued this report: IRS Needs to Continue Improving Controls over Financial and Taxpayer Data. Summation:
Until IRS takes additional steps to (1) address unresolved and newly identified control deficiencies and (2) effectively implements elements of its information security program, including, among other things, updating policies, test and evaluation procedures, and remedial action procedures, its financial and taxpayer data will remain unnecessarily vulnerable to inappropriate and undetected use, modification, or disclosure. These shortcomings were the basis for GAO's determination that IRS had a significant deficiency in internal control over financial reporting systems for fiscal year 2014.
And along came Obamacare. Apparently our leaders decided that the IRS should handle our medical information of top of what's it doing already. What a topsy-turvy world we live in in which a highly politicized agency is in charge of so much of our sensitive information. It's almost as if they want bureaucrats to make our lives as difficult as possible.