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Tax-Related Identity Theft Down 40 Percent, IRS Says

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced steep declines in tax-related identity theft in 2017, attributing the success to its Security Summit initiative, a private-public sector partnership formed in 2015 to combat identity theft.

Key indicators of identity theft dropped for the second year in a row in 2017, reported the IRS on February 8. These include a 40 percent decline in taxpayers reporting they have become a victim of identity theft since 2016. Since 2015, the number of tax-related identity theft victims has fallen by almost two-third (65 percent).

The number of tax returns with confirmed identity theft also declined by 32 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. Between 2015-17 the number of of confirmed identity theft tax returns fell by 57 percent, with more than USD20bn in taxpayer refunds being protected.

In 2017, banks recovered 144,000 refunds compared to 124,000 in 2016 – a 16 percent increase. The amount of refunds recovered was USD204m in 2017, compared to USD281m in 2016. In 2015, the financial industry recovered 249,000 refunds totaling USD852m.

"These dramatic declines reflect the continuing success of the Security Summit effort," said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. "This partnership between the IRS, states, and the tax community is helping protect taxpayers against identity theft. More work remains in this effort, and we look forward to continuing this collaborative effort to fight identity theft and refund fraud."