On April 19, 2016, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Koskinen testified before the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Oversight regarding the 2016 filing season and data security. His testimony provided a summary of data current through the beginning of April.
Key figures regarding taxpayers included the following:
- More than 107 million individual tax returns received as of April 8, 2016;
- Approximately 81 million tax refunds issued totaling over $228 billion;
- 187,000 hits on the Online Payment Agreement application at www.IRS.gov; and
- Over 254 million hits on the “Where’s My Refund?” online tracking tool.
Phone service was said to have reached 75%, a significant improvement over the previous year, due to an addition of 1,000 temporary workers during the peak of the filing season.
Identity theft and taxpayer information security continues to be a top priority for the IRS. Key findings regarding cybersecurity and identity theft included the following:
- Roughly 2,000 individuals convicted on federal charges related to refund fraud in the most recent few years;
- About 1,700 investigations currently being worked by the Criminal Investigation Division; and
- 1.4 million returns caught as being filed by identity thieves, preventing collection of approximately $8.7 billion in fraudulent refunds.
Security for online tools available through www.IRS.gov , such as the Get Transcript Application, was strengthened. However, the IRS acknowledges that improved security sometimes comes at a cost: about 22% of legitimate taxpayers who attempted to access this application did not meet the criteria of the original authentication method. Legitimate taxpayers were still able to order mail delivery of their transcripts online or by phone.
To read the full transcript of Commissioner Koskinen’s testimony, including his suggestions for future improvements to services and funding, click here.