Re­port: 1.4 mil­lion il­le­gals work­ing un­der some­one else’s stolen iden­tity

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Most il­le­gal im­mi­grants who pay taxes have stolen some­one else’s le­gal iden­tity, and the IRS doesn’t do a very good job of let­ting those U.S. cit­i­zens and le­gal im­mi­grants know they’re be­ing im­per­son­ated, the tax agency’s in­spec­tor gen­eral said in a new re­port re­leased Thurs­day.

The theft cre­ates ma­jor prob­lems for the Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and le­gal for­eign work­ers whose iden­ti­ties are stolen, and who have to deal with ex­plain­ing money they never earned.

But the IRS only man­ages to iden­tify half of the po­ten­tially 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple likely af­fected by the fraud in 2015, the Trea­sury In­spec­tor Gen­eral for Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion said in its re­port.

“Cases of em­ploy­ment iden­tity theft can cause sig­nif­i­cant bur­den to in­no­cent tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing the in­cor­rect com­pu­ta­tion of taxes based on in­come that does not be­long to them,” said J. Rus­sell Ge­orge, the in­spec­tor gen­eral.

It’s long been a co­nun­drum in the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

The IRS knows of 2.4 mil­lion peo­ple a year who file taxes us­ing an In­di­vid­ual Tax­payer Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber, which is gen­er­ally given out to im­mi­grants who aren’t au­tho­rized to work. But the IRS is not al­lowed to talk with Home­land Se­cu­rity to help agents iden­tify who and where those tax­pay­ers are.

The mi­grants file their forms with their ITINs, but the W-2 forms they sub­mit show valid So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers that they fraud­u­lently gave to their em­ployer to clear an ini­tial work au­tho­riza­tion check.

A stag­ger­ing 87 per­cent of forms filed on­line us­ing ITINs showed in­come cred­ited to a So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber. More than half of the forms filed by pa­per also showed that same fraud­u­lent be­hav­ior.

The IRS tries to mark the files of the fraud vic­tims when elec­tronic fil­ings are used. But the tax agency misses about half of the vic­tims, the in­spec­tor gen­eral said.

For pa­per forms, the IRS did even worse, the au­dit found.

The tax agency, in its of­fi­cial re­ply to the re­port, in­sisted it takes iden­tity theft “very se­ri­ously.”

Ken­neth C. Corbin, com­mis­sioner of the IRS’s wage and in­vest­ment divi­sion, said it has just

“Cases of em­ploy­ment iden­tity theft can cause sig­nif­i­cant bur­den to in­no­cent tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing the in­cor­rect com­pu­ta­tion of taxes based on in­come that does not be­long to them.”

— J. Rus­sell Ge­orge, in­spec­tor gen­eral

com­pleted a pilot pro­gram to fig­ure out how to no­tify tax­pay­ers they’re the vic­tims of fraud.

But he said in most of the cases they’re miss­ing right now, the So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber given is for some­one who doesn’t have a tax ac­count on their sys­tem. He said they can’t cre­ate a no­ti­fi­ca­tion for some­one who’s not in their files, and said be­cause of pri­vacy con­cerns they won’t just send a no­ti­fi­ca­tion to the ad­dresses listed.

He also said there are cases where some­one know­ingly loaned out their So­cial Se­cu­rity to an unau­tho­rized worker, and thus wasn’t prop­erly a vic­tim but a con­spir­a­tor.

The IRS agreed to some of the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s rec­om­men­da­tions but re­fused others. Mr. Corbin said the IRS would do what it could, but pleaded poverty, say­ing the agency has “lim­ited re­sources.”

“We can­not com­mit to ad­di­tional ac­tions that would re­quire sig­nif­i­cant re­sources to ac­com­plish,” he wrote.


Peo­ple line up for an ori­en­ta­tion seminar for il­le­gal im­mi­grants, to de­ter­mine if they qual­ify for tem­po­rary work per­mits, at the Coali­tion for Hu­mane Im­mi­grant Rights of Los Angeles. A re­port finds IRS only iden­ti­fies half of the il­le­gal im­mi­grants who pay taxes un­der some­one else’s stolen le­gal iden­tity.

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