Pascrell ID Theft Amendments Pass Committee
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) successfully advanced initiatives to support local law enforcement and counter tax-related phone scams as the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation that would combat identity theft and tax fraud.
At Thursday’s committee meeting, the committee unanimously reported the bipartisan Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act, authored by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH). Included the final bill were four provisions authored by Pascrell, including three from the Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 3981), which he introduced last year.
“Targeting taxpayers for identity theft has reached an all-time high and become a common practice of organized criminal enterprises. Victims often have no knowledge their identity has been stolen until it is too late,” stated Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey’s only member of the committee. “The legislation we advanced today will take important steps to protect consumers, crack down on criminals, and ensure that tax dollars are not going to waste. While we have more work to do to ensure the IRS has the resources necessary to combat this growing problem, this legislation demonstrates that we can come together across the aisle to solve problems facing the American people.”
Pascrell offered two bipartisan amendments that were adopted unanimously by the committee:
- An amendment creating a local law enforcement liaison within the Internal Revenue Service to coordinate identity theft cases with local police and law enforcement agents, giving cops a single place to go to at the IRS when they need to work a case and share information -- helping them to do their jobs protecting our communities.
- An amendment addressing the so-called IRS Phone Scam by requiring an IRS report on these scams and potential technological solutions; also requiring the IRS to provide taxpayers with information on how to avoid these scams over the phone when on hold at IRS call centers. Taxpayers have been targeted by aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents who request personal information in order to steal their identities.
Additionally, the manager’s amendment included two other provisions from the Pascrell bill: one provision requiring a central point of contact at the IRS for victims of identity theft and another to ensure taxpayers are notified of suspected identity theft. These commonsense measures will aid taxpayers who may have been targeted by criminals trying to steal their identity to file fraudulent tax returns.
“I was proud to support this bipartisan legislation that passed today. I believe that several of my proposals included in the final bill will make a difference in supporting law enforcement, educating the public, and providing resources for victims of ID theft. I look forward to supporting this bill on the floor of the House of Representatives,” concluded Pascrell.
Online crime has grown more sophisticated in recent years, and dealing with fraudulent tax claims has been a challenge for the IRS. In 2015, organized crime syndicates accessed past tax returns of more than 100,000 people to file fraudulent returns; the IRS sent nearly $50 million in refunds before detecting the crime. Yet funding for IRS cybersecurity has fallen by more than 20% in the past five years.