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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


July 14, 2011
TIGTA - 2011-36
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500
karen.kraushaar@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

TIGTA Report: The IRS Did Not Notify All Taxpayers When Their Personal Information Was Inadvertently Disclosed

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not always promptly and properly notify taxpayers of inadvertent disclosures of their personal information, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Millions of taxpayers entrust the IRS with sensitive financial and personal data when they file their tax returns each year. TIGTA conducted an audit to determine whether the IRS promptly notifies taxpayers of inadvertent disclosure of their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves from identity theft or other harm.

“It is troubling that although the IRS has many processes and regulations that protect taxpayer information, there are times when taxpayer information is inadvertently disclosed,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Taxpayers need to be assured that the IRS will promptly notify them of inadvertent disclosures of their confidential information, so they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves from identity theft or other harm,” he added.

TIGTA reviewed a statistical sample of 98 case files of incidents reported as inadvertent disclosures in Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 and found that not all taxpayers were properly or timely notified of the disclosures’ occurrence. Of those 98 case files, TIGTA found that 35 cases involved a failure to notify the taxpayer or a failure to notify the taxpayer within 45 days of the incident.

In addition, TIGTA’s review of the IRS’s four systems used to capture disclosure incidents identified an additional 815 potential inadvertent disclosures, not previously identified by the IRS.

TIGTA made four recommendations in its report, calling for better employee education, procedure revision and the introduction of new timeliness measures and controls. The IRS agreed to the recommendations.

Read the report.

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