Remember the news last year that hackers broke into the IRS website and stole the identities of over 700,000 taxpayers? The IRS had attempted to set up an easy way for taxpayers to access their tax transcripts since the requests for transcripts had increased dramatically in recent years. This was convenient for taxpayers but due to lax security, it was also very easy for hackers to break into the application and steal identities of those who had used the service. To address this problem, the IRS mailed ID Protection PINs to affected taxpayers. These PINs would be required on their 2015 tax returns to verify their identity so that the ID thieves could not file fraudulent returns using their stolen information. In case a taxpayer lost or did not receive their letter, the IRS set up a way to retrieve the ID PIN on their website. Here’s the fun part, the IRS used the SAME SECURITY measures as they had on the original get transcript application so it was just as easy for ID thieves to steal the ID PINs. Well, now the IRS just announced the launch of a new “get transcript” feature on their website with “enhanced security”. Let’s see how well this one works.
The IRS has withdrawn its proposed regulation which would have had charities collecting and reporting social security numbers of all donors who gave over 250 to the charity. The proposed regulation drew a large negative reaction from charities concerned about the additional record keeping requirements and numerous people concerned with an increased risk in ID theft by having social security numbers used more widely. This goes to show that even the IRS listens to taxpayers occasionally.
Apparently they grumbled loud enough for action to be taken. Last Friday, Sen. Pat Roberts introduced legislation which would ban the proposed IRS regulation from taking effect. It appears lots of people are concerned about the increased risk of ID theft that would occur if this regulation were to be implemented.
especially those concerned about ID theft. Current law requires charities to provide a written acknowledgement to anyone who donates a gift of 250 or more on any given day. This new proposal allows a charity to instead elect to provide the IRS with an annual list of names and social security numbers of individuals who donated to them. Charities don’t like it because they would be required to obtain social security numbers from their donors and then securely store that information. Many individuals don’t like the idea because it means they would need to provide their social security numbers to each applicable charity to which they donate. Since ID thieves have successfully stolen financial data from major retailers, banks, and even the IRS web site, I’m sure they would be happy for the opportunity to steal that information from charities.