Tax Foundation hopes IRS will remove web feature

An official with the free-market Tax Foundation said he hopes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will remove a web feature that could facilitate identity theft.

“The ‘Get My Electronic Filing PlN’ page … which enables taxpayers to obtain an IRS-provider number to file their taxes online, requires such minimal information that any data thief worth his salt would already have,” said Joseph Henchman, the Tax Foundation's vice president for legal and state projects, in a letter Thursday to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Henchman said that thieves could currently steal someone’s identity through the “Get My Electronic Filing PIN” page if they know someone’s Social Security number, address and date of birth. He referenced a Tax Analysts article that pointed out that the page lacks necessary security features.

“The whole point of requiring a PIN to file electronically is to minimize identity theft, so it is sadly ironic that the process to obtain an electronic PIN is so easy that it makes the whole point of obtaining one pointless at best and making identity theft easier at worst,” Henchman said.

IRS officials told Tax Analysts that the PIN could only be used for the current year’s tax return. But Henchman was not satisfied with this answer.

“The IRS is using identifiers to verify identity that are not secret, and it represents a massive vulnerability waiting to happen,” he said.