In my last blog, I discussed issues that arose during the 2018 filing season that contributed to the delay of taxpayers’ refunds when those taxpayers’ returns were selected into the non-IDT refund fraud program, including:
- timing issues with the matching of third-party information;
- how the system does not consider how third-party information would affect a taxpayer’s refund, and
- how the pre-refund wage verification program’s case management system, Electronic Fraud Detection System (EFDS), had to have third-party information uploaded manually instead of systemically.
These issues resulted in an unprecedented increase in Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) case receipts in 2018 as more affected taxpayers sought TAS assistance.
As we approach the filing season, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss an issue that affects many taxpayer returns, namely the IRS processes for identifying and stopping refund fraud. Attempted refund fraud has become a significant problem in our tax system. According to the most recent figures available, in calendar year (CY) 2016, identity theft (IDT), refund fraud alone, cost the government roughly $1.7 billion. I fully support the IRS’s efforts to reduce refund fraud and protect revenue. However, I have expressed concern over several years that the refund fraud false positive rate (FPR) is too high and that the IRS takes far too long to process legitimate taxpayers’ returns once it has determined that they have been inaccurately selected. For some taxpayers who rely on their tax refund to pay for necessary living expenses, their anxiety increases every day that their refund is delayed.