Law Enforcement Assistance Pilot Program on Identity Theft Activity Involving the IRS
As part of its comprehensive identity theft strategy, the IRS is expanding the law enforcement assistance pilot program designed to help law enforcement obtain tax return data vital to their local efforts in investigating and prosecuting specific cases of identity theft. In addition to the initial State of Florida, this pilot program is expanding to work with law enforcement in eight additional states: Alabama, California, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The IRS launched the initial pilot in Florida in April of 2012. Over 750 waiver requests have been received through October from roughly 50 state and local law enforcement agencies in Florida participating in the pilot.
Under the pilot program, state and local law enforcement officials with evidence of identity theft involving fraudulently filed federal tax returns will be able to have identity theft victims complete a special IRS disclosure form. Taxpayers must give their permission for the IRS to provide law enforcement with the returns submitted using their Social Security number. Law enforcement officials will need to contact the identity theft victims in order to request and secure the victims' consent for disclosure of the records. In certain instances, the IRS will assist law enforcement in locating taxpayers and soliciting their consent.
Law enforcement would then submit a disclosure authorization form, which the IRS created solely for use by victims of identity theft for this pilot program, to the Criminal Investigation (CI) Division of the IRS, along with a copy of the police report and the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit if available. It is important that identity theft victims still submit the original copy of the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS according to the instructions on the back of the form that fit their specific circumstances.
Federal law imposes restrictions on sharing of taxpayer information, including information that can be shared with state and local law enforcement. This program allows taxpayers the option to permit information to be shared with state and local law enforcement specifically to assist law enforcement officials with their efforts in pursuing identity theft perpetrators. During this expanded pilot program, the IRS will process the disclosure forms received and forward the documentation to the law enforcement officer who requested the documents. The documents will not be sent directly to the taxpayer. However, the IRS will continue to work directly with taxpayers to resolve their tax accounts as quickly as possible.
Law enforcement in the nine states in this pilot program who are interested in working with the IRS should contact their local IRS Criminal Investigation field office.
Following the pilot, the IRS will carefully assess the results and performance before deciding on how to proceed with the program.
The IRS comprehensive identity theft strategy comprises a dual effort, focusing both on fraud prevention and victim assistance. On the prevention side, this includes implementing new processes for handling returns, new filters to detect fraud, new initiatives to partner with stakeholders and a continued commitment to investigate the criminals who perpetrate these crimes. As for victim assistance, the IRS is working to accelerate case resolution, provide more training for our employees who assist victims of identity theft, and increase outreach to and education of taxpayers so they can prevent and resolve tax-related identity theft issues quickly.