IRS’s Ability to Protect Taxpayer Information in Question Following Cyberattack
The IRS today announced that hackers have breached their system and stolen the personal information of over 100,000 taxpayers by accessing old returns. The breach should again raise questions about the ability of the agency to safely protect confidential taxpayer information especially given the increased responsibility the agency is being given in administering Obamacare.
According to the agency, hackers have used personal information of taxpayers to file fraudulent tax returns by exploiting a specific application known as “Get Transcript.” The final amount stolen has yet to be determined although Commissioner Koskinen hoped it would not reach $50 million.
In a statement, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said it is unacceptable that the IRS remains so vulnerable, and the agency has been “repeatedly warned” that it needed to do more to protect taxpayers.
At the same time, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has repeatedly raised concerns about the agency’s ability to protect taxpayer information. A TIGTA report issued earlier this month found that the agency had failed to fire employees that “willfully violate tax law”, while a report issued in February found that the agency had rehired employees that had engaged inunauthorized access of taxpayer information.
Just last week, it was revealed that the agency had failed to test its system for administering Obamacare until a week before tax filing season began. Given its repeated failings, it should be alarming that the agency will now be handling the personal healthcare information of Americans.