The Internal Revenue Service and private tax preparers say they are beefing up efforts to limit tax-related identity theft for the 2016 filing season, testing more than 20 new safeguards to protect taxpayers’ sensitive information.
“We have never had this level of cooperation or sharing,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said at a briefing Tuesday. “We will collect (information) in real time, and we will pull it together and share it back out so everyone has access to that information.”
So far, 34 states and 20 tax preparation companies have agreed to share information.
The new safeguards mark the latest effort in a new information-sharing strategy among the IRS, state tax authorities and the private tax preparation industry to halt a surge in tax refund fraud.
Identity theft has been a major theme for the agency this year following a spike in suspicious tax filings and an attack from hackers who stole personal information of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers.
Koskinen said the new safeguards will be as “non-burdensome as possible” for tax preparers and require “relatively incremental steps” for taxpayers.
“Filing season is going to be much more secure than in the past,” he said.