Hatch demands answers on IRS hack

The Senate Finance Committee is demanding details from the IRS about how hackers were able to obtain tax information for over 100,000 Americans.

In a letter, committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Trump administration backs Oracle in Supreme Court battle against Google MORE (R-Utah) promised the panel’s full support as the tax agency investigates the cyberattack. He also requested detailed information about how the breach of critical information occurred, and what could be done to prevent another.

“Every year, the IRS collects more than 140 million individual tax returns, roughly 6 million corporate tax returns, and millions of sensitive information returns and other filings,” Hatch wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “It is no exaggeration to say that the confidential taxpayer information your agency holds is of the utmost private nature for every single taxpayer in the United States.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On Tuesday, the IRS announced hackers had been able to obtain old tax returns for 104,000 taxpayers, using previously stolen information to impersonate individuals. Hackers had access to those old returns from February to mid-May, when the IRS discovered and shut down the activity.

Koskinen said the IRS believes the attack came from organized crime syndicates, likely in an effort to gain information that could help criminals file fake returns in the future to steal tax refunds.

Hatch said he was briefed on the attack earlier this month by Koskinen, but now is asking for a slew of details. In his letter, Hatch asked the IRS how the hackers were able to successfully gain access to IRS information, what they might have done with the information obtained and what the IRS has done to address the matter.

Koskinen previously said that the taxpayers who had their information improperly accessed would receive free credit monitoring from the IRS, and any taxpayer whose information was targeted by hackers, whether the attempt was successful, would be notified.

Hatch also told Koskinen that he and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, were conducting a probe into how electronic tax preparation services could be targets for identity theft and refund fraud.

“This concern will only be amplified due to the recent IRS breach,” he wrote.