Good News From The IRS: Tax Refund Identity Theft Is Way Down This Year

Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk

This tax season, you may remember Consumerist reminding you to file as early as possible, especially if you were expecting a refund or receiving certain tax credits aimed at lower-income Americans. New anti-fraud measures taken by the Internal Revenue Service and better awareness of the problem have apparently helped: The IRS reports that tax refund fraud has decreased.

That doesn’t mean that it’s stopped, but does mean that it’s down 47% over this time last year. By the end of May 2016, 204,000 people had filed reports that someone had stolen their tax refunds, and 297,000 in the same period in 2015. That number was only 97,000 in the first five months of 2017.

“The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community have worked hard to turn the tide against tax-related identity theft,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement.

One of the measures that the IRS put in place to protect taxpayers’ refunds meant that they received them later than usual, and this had far-reaching and strange effects on the economy, like lower TV sales.

The agency does warn, though, that crooks are now trying other ways to scoop up free money from the tax system. These include the tax returns filed by corporations, trusts, estates, and business partnerships. They’re also attacking the offices and computer systems of tax preparers, with a reported three to five new data breaches reported by preparers every week.

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