House passes bill to prevent tax-related identity theft

House passes bill to prevent tax-related identity theft

The House on Monday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at preventing and helping the victims of tax-related identity theft.

The measure passed by voice vote. It had been approved by the Ways and Means Committee last month.

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The bill includes provisions that would require the IRS to inform ID-theft victims as soon as is feasible and would direct the Treasury Department to create procedures to establish a centralized point of contact for victims. It also would instruct Treasury to study the feasibility of allowing victims to choose to have the IRS stop any electronic returns in their name.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), who himself has had a fraudulent tax return filed in his name, and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.

Renacci said that portions of the original bill were included the the tax-extenders law enacted last year. “The remaining components of this bill with help further shield taxpayer dollars from thieves and reduce the hardships caused by this criminal activity.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), whose amendments were incorporated into the bill when the Ways and Means Committee considered it, said the legislation is “a step in the right direction.”

“Identity theft and tax fraud is a growing problem in the United States of America,” he said. “As technology changes, and as criminal syndicates target American citizens, their tax returns, we have an obligation to address the issue.”

The Senate Finance Committee has also approved a bipartisan bill aimed at combating identity theft and tax refund fraud, but that measure includes different provisions from the House bill.